Forgotten World Trade Center Rescue Workers Pin Last Hopes on Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act

The <"">World Trade Center emergency worker settlement that was approved last week has left out hundreds of people who assisted in the rescue and recovery efforts at Ground Zero after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Now, the only chance these forgotten World Trade Center responders have for getting help with their medical bills could be through the passage of the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.

The Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act would provide long-term health care for those who became ill after working at Ground Zero, and re-create a victim compensation fund to make cash payments to sick workers or their survivors, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The bill passed the House of Representatives earlier this year. Now, New York’s senators, Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, both Democrats, are trying to push the bill in the Senate, and it needs only one more Republican vote to become law. But according to the Journal, Republicans are opposed to the measure because there is no agreement on how it should be paid for. The lame duck session that convenes this week is probably the bill’s last chance at passage, because a new Republican majority set to take over the House next year is opposed to it.

As we reported last week, more than 95 percent of the workers who took New York City officials and contractors to court over health problems stemming from the rescue and recovery operations at Ground Zero approved a $625 million settlement to cover their health claims. But according to The Wall Street Journal, 325 of those who have applied for the settlement have already been rejected by the federal judge overseeing the case, because they purportedly waited too long to file their lawsuits.

Those left out include heroes like Rich Dambakly, who spent four months working without a day off at Ground Zero after the attacks. According to the Star News, the North Carolina man developed a cough while working at the site, and later was diagnosed with a rare blood cancer. Dambakly missed the arbitrary filing deadline by a mere 14 days.

“I have five children. If I happen to die tomorrow with cancer what happens to them?” Dambakly said in an interview with “They suffer and I’m just a story.”

Dambakly’s lawyer, Matthew McCauley, of the law firm of Parker Waichman Alonso LLP, told the Wall Street Journal that the Zadroga bill may the only chance for Dambakly and others like him to get compensation because “they’re seeing the court dismiss every claim they put in.” Parker Waichman Alonso LLP represents a dozen other World Trade Center Workers who are in the same position as Dambakly.

If the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act doesn’t pass, there won’t be a quick end to World Trade Center litigation, despite the recently approved settlement, according to US Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan).

“We have to expect more litigation from the thousands who have or will develop 9/11 conditions and were not part of the settlement,” Maloney told The Wall Street Journal.

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