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Schumer Blasts Taxpayer-Financed Insurance Company For Stonewalling Ground Zero Recovery Workers

Senator, Who Secured $1 Billion in Federal Funding, Calls on Captive Insurance Fund to Stop Fighting Every Claim Tooth and Nail Schumer: Five Years after 9-11, This Isnt What Fund Was Intended For Need To Set Criteria and Start Making Payments to Workers Injured at Ground Zero

Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer blasted the WTC Captive Insurance Company for failing to pay the claims of those who are injured or ill as a result of their work at Ground Zero and called on its C EO, Christine LaSala, to immediately establish new protocols and objective criteria so that this money can be distributed as quickly as possible. Schumer, who fought to secure the $1 billion federal funding in the months after 9/11, said the Company appeared to be more concerned with technical legal arguments, than paying those who are injured, including the fire fighters, police officers , EMTs, building trades workers and other workers who cleared debris at the World Trade Center site.

After 9/11, these heroes led the charge to bring New York City and America back and now they are being left behind, Schumer said. These workers were injured serving our nation in its time of greatest need, and we must not turn our backs on them now. No one involved with the establishment of this fund expected it to behave like a stingy, bottomline obsessed corporation. Rather, it was created out of recognition that neither the City nor the contractors were responsible for the attacks and that those who were injured while working at Ground Zero deserved full and swift compensation.

Because no private insurer would take on the risks associated with the site and address the unforeseen health risks associated with working at Ground Zero, Schumer fought to ensure the federal government would fill the gap. Schumer, working with the City, contractors and the Administration, secured $1 billion in federal funds to ensure that those injured at the site or who became sick from working on the top of the pile of toxic debris would be compensated.

To ensure coverage for the nearly 40,000 workers who toiled at the Ground Zero site, Schumer said the federal funds were to act as a premium payment to a captive insurance company controlled by the City and established under New York law. Schumer personally lobbied then Office of Management and Budget Administrator Mitch Daniels to include the $1 billion as part of New York Citys $20 billion recovery package.

Unfortunately, it has been widely reported that the WTC Captive Insurance Company has instead spent significant portions of its limited resources litigating a technical legal question rather than moving forward with paying claims of those who were injured at the site. The company has spent more than $31.6 million since 2004 on overhead and expenses including $22 million on legal fees.

In his letter, Schumer wrote, My intent, along with that of my colleagues in Congress, was to use this federal money to pay appropriate claims, not to fight claims& I urge the captive insurance company to immediately stop litigating this technical, legal question and begin the process of reviewing and paying appropriate claims of those who are sick or injured. Schumer added that, The cases of those that have already died Firefighter Stephen Johnson, Police Officer James Godbee, Detective James Zadroga and Emergency Medical Service paramedic Debbie Reeve should receive particular attention.

After the September 11 attacks, thousands of first responders and construction workers rushed to the site to assist with search and rescue operations, and recovery and debris removal. As a result, many have potentially suffered debilitating, even lifethreatening, injuries, resulting for inhaling toxic fumes and residue while working at the Ground Zero site.