By Julie Shapiro
LOWER MANHATTAN — John Feal, a leading advocate for first responders sickened at Ground Zero who helped push the federal 9/11 healthcare bill into law, has released a list of five lawyers he trusts to help those eligible collect the federal payouts.
Feal previously warned responders not to sign any agreements with lawyers who had already started circling even before President Obama signed the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act earlier this month.
But over the weekend, Feal and his staff at the FealGood Foundation released the names of those firms they feel are reliable, well-established, and prepared to fight for thousands of rescue and recovery workers to receive a share of the newly-created $2.8 billion Victim Compensation Fund.
"We chose the firms we think could best represent 9/11 responders and take their interests to heart," Feal said Monday.
Among the lawyers selected was Frank Andrea, a Long Island attorney who has represented recovery workers in personal injury cases.
Andrea has signed up about 40 new cases related to the Zadroga Act in the past several weeks and said many of his clients are seriously ill.
"It’s almost like [the terrorists] are still attacking us in another way," Andrea said. "We’re going to help [the sick responders] the best we can."
The other members of the team include Michael Barasch, whose lower Manhattan firm represented NYPD detective James Zadroga before he died in 2006; John Dearie, who has offices around New York State; Matthew McCauley, of the national firm Parker Waichman Alonso; and Noah Kushlefsky with Kreindler & Kreindler, a firm that represented many of the families in the original Victim Compensation Fund.
All five of the lawyers have worked with 9/11 responders in the past, and they also all promised to give individual attention to every client’s case, Feal said. Some of the lawyers even agreed to take less than the 10 percent fee that the law allows, Feal said.
The timeline for Victim Compensation Fund claims has not yet been set. The Obama administration still has to appoint a Special Master to oversee the fund and draft rules, a process that could take until the summer.
Sen. Chuck Schumer has requested that Kenneth Feinberg be appointed Special Master over the fund, since he served the same role under the previous 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund. Feinberg has offered to resume the position pro-bono, Schumer said.
Those who want to be represented by the FealGood Foundation’s team of lawyers should contact Sean Riordan as soon as possible at 646-831-6229 or SeanPJRiordan@nypoliceattorney.com.