Saturday, May 29, 2010

Laywers for Sick Ground Zero Workers Agree to Reduce $200M in Legal Fees to $115M by Alison Gendar and Samuel Goldsmith - NY Daily News

Bloomberg's Corporation Counsel tells judge to butt out of settlement and that rich lawyers deserve more $, thereby reducing amount 911 Ground Zero workers get...typical Bloomberg rhetoric..!

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Attorneys at Worby Groner Edelman & Napoli Bern, representing sickened Ground Zero workers, have agreed to reduce the $200 million in legal fees to $115 million.Simmons/News

Lawyers who negotiated a massive settlement for 10,000 sickened Ground Zero workers have grudgingly agreed to forgo $85 million in legal fees, the Daily News has learned.

Attorneys at Worby Groner Edelman & Napoli Bern sent a letter to Judge Alvin Hellerstein, who is overseeing the case, volunteering to lower legal fees and pass more money on to the ailing workers.

Hellerstein and sick workers lambasted the lawyers when the deal was struck in March because the lawyers were set to take home a third of the roughly $600 million payout - almost $200 million - in legal fees. Now, they'll accept 20% of the award - $115 million.

"Our fees will be reduced under this court's insistence that it would limit those fees to an even greater degree than we have voluntarily agreed to do," the letter states.

"We have ...been influenced by the truly disheartening pressures visited upon us by the media and our own clients, both of whom seem to believe that we should have simply donated our time for these past seven years."

Hellerstein rejected the settlement in March, saying it was "not enough" for the sick workers.

Early reactions to the letter from ailing workers were positive.

"There is only one pie, and everyone is looking for a piece of it," said Ernie Vallebuona, a retired cop who is sick with cancer. "The judge has asked them to find ways to get more to the people who were sick. If that does this, then it is a good move."

City lawyers who worked out the settlement in April accused Hellerstein of overstepping his legal bounds and interfering with a "private settlement."

"The judge's statements and actions, together with his refusal to even consider other viewpoints, have made it necessary to appeal his rulings," said Corporation Counsel Michael Cardozo.