Zadroga Act Fund May be Overseen by BP Oil Spill Claims Czar

Kenneth Feinberg could end up administering <"">Zadroga Act claims for sickened Ground Zero responders. Feinberg is the Washington, DC lawyer who administered the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund and was tapped to be the “Pay Czar” for the Troubled Assets Relief Fund. As readers of the blog likely already know, Feinberg is also the administrator for the BP oil spill compensation fund.

The Zadroga Act, which finally passed Congress late last year, designates $4.3 billion to provide health care and compensation to responders and volunteers sickened by toxic dust at Ground Zero in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. For the first time, those who have suffered psychological aftereffects from the attacks but no physical symptoms will be eligible for compensation. Decisions on administering and allocating the Zadroga bill compensation fund will be made by a special master.

According to a report from, in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, Feinberg has volunteered to administer Zadroga Act claims pro bono. Holder has the sole authority to select the fund’s administrator.

Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY), a key backer of the Zadroga Act, supports Feinberg for the post, Politico said.

“We must ensure fairness and efficiency and I can think of no one more qualified and respected than Ken Feinberg to ensure this compensation system immediately addresses the healthcare needs of the heroes who were sickened after coming to the defense of their country,” Schumer said in a statement. “Our first 9/11 first responders have waited long enough. He did a first-rate job as the special master of the original 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund and I have every confidence he will do the same now.”

While it’s true that Feinberg was widely praised for the way he administered the original 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, his tenure as head of the Gulf Coast Claims Facility has been somewhat more controversial. Earlier this week, for example, we reported that a group of BP oil spill victims in Louisiana were circulating a petition in an effort to have Feinberg removed from that post. That petition claims Feinberg has not fairly administered claims against the $20 billion oil spill fund, and criticizes him for failing to disclose his compensation in this role. Lawyers representing plaintiffs in BP oil spill lawsuits are also questioning Feinberg’s independence, asserting claimants should be told that he is an employee of either BP or the federal government.

It’s not known when Holder will make a decision on a Zadroga Act administrator. According to Politico, the act requires the fund to be operational within 180 days of being signed.

In other Zadroga Act news, an important advocate for sick Ground Responders is warning potential claimants to exercise caution in choosing a lawyer to assist them in processing their claim. John Feal, who heads up the Feal Good Foundation, issued a statement advising claimants to shop around for legal counsel before signing on with an attorney.

“Our recommendation: Stand fast!” Feal said in a press release Monday. “There is no need to do this with urgency, none whatsoever. So please be patient, and don’t sign any documents with any attorney, until you have shopped and found the best possible attorney for you and your family.”

Feal also released a list of five lawyers he trusts to help those eligible collect the federal payouts. The list includes Matthew McCauley, of the national firm <"">Parker Waichman Alonso LLP. 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. The five law firms have agreed to entertain clients from the Feal Good Foundation.

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