The Legal Aftermath of 9/11 Continues a Decade Later

Related litigation resulting from the attacks of September 11, 2001 has soared to unimaginable levels. Correlated lawsuits include a total of more than 12,000 plaintiffs, 1,000 defendants and representation by more than 600 attorneys. A Federal law effective shortly after 9/11 resulted in the necessity of each one of those cases to pass through the federal Court in Manhattan.  The cases can be divided into four umbrella topics: 1) Survivors of those killed and people injured by the attacks, 2) property, business owners and insurers, 3) the first responders and clean-up workers at Ground Zero, and 4) the first responders and clean-up workers at buildings in close proximity to Ground Zero.

Nearly 3,000 people, mostly the families of the deceased, have chosen to apply for the Federal Victim Compensation Fund. It was enacted by Congress following the September 11 attacks in efforts to provide financial remedies for the families of those harmed and killed as a result of the attacks. The Fund was also offered as a compensation option in an effort to protect the airlines from an onslaught of litigation. Although the Fund dispensed more than 7 billion dollars, there still remain countless parties who refused the money and instead, sought their own form of reimbursement via the legal system.

Likewise remedies were enacted for the thousands of emergency personnel and rescue teams who worked in the rubble thereafter developed illnesses and conditions related to pervasive respiratory problems and exposure to toxins.  The claims of more than 10,000 plaintiffs were consolidated and settled with the city which will pay out more than $600 million to those involved. Such payments will range from the thousands to possibly the millions, contingent upon the severity of one’s condition.

A decade later, post 9/11 litigation still ensues with hundreds yet to enter the courtroom. The intricacy and density of the cases, the plaintiffs and the extent of consideration needed in assessing damages and liability shall continue to plague Manhattan’s Federal court.

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