The New York Post called it an "incredible blunder". The New York Daily News reported that 9/11 sick workers were scared to sign any "settlement papers" or risk losing out on Zadroga Act Victims’ Compensation Fund benefits. This is not the first time that the Worby / Napoli Law firms have been accused of "scaring" 9/11 heroes.
Now the law firms of Worby Groner & Edelman and Napoli, Bern are are fighting back and protesting the NY Post article in a barrage of internet press releases saying "Don’t Go to the NY Post for Legal Advice". The New York Post issued a new editorial yesterday on the signing of the Zadroga 9/11 Act and responding in part to the Worby / Napoli complaints. We agree that no sick 9/11 hero should be getting their legal advice from the New York Post.
At this time, if you have not already signed a release of your prior 9/11 civil action claims and returned it to your lawyer, you should seek out a competent second legal opinion, independent of Worby, Groner & Edelman and Napoli, Bern, prior to signing any settlement papers on your prior 9/11 litigation.
The problem is that under the Zadroga 9/11 Act, anyone who has not "tendered" a release in a prior 9/11 civil action prior to the date president Obama signed the law (this past Sunday, 1/2/2011), is not eligilble for a compensation award under the Zadroga 9/11 Act.
Under New York Civil Procedure law, the definition of "tender" is:
The term "tender," as used in the statute, is defined as meaning "either to personally deliver or to mail, by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested" (CPLR 5003-a [g]). See the link here to the case of : DJS Med. Supplies, Inc. v American Tr. Ins. Co., 2008 NY Slip Op 52456(U) (App. Term, 2d).
This all could have been easily avoided by the Worby / Napoli lawyers. It was reported by the New York Law Journal on October 18th of last year that Judge Hellerstein approved the Port Authority portion of the settlement. Why didn’t Worby, Groner & Edelman and Napoli, Bern get the settlement papers out to their clients soon after the settlement, rather than wait to the last minute? Now, eligibility for Zadroga 9/11 Act benefits rests solely in the hands of a Special Master yet to be named, or as a result of further litigation.
With all due respect to the Court Appointed Ethics Expert Roy Simon, who Worby / Napoli use to back up their position in the press releases, he is not an expert on civil procedure. He has not in the press release said that anyone "tendering" settlement papers after enactment of the law will be eligible for Zadroga Health and Compensation benefits. And most importantly, he will not be the one who makes the decision on Zadroga 9/11 Act eligibility.