A State Appeals Court Decision may Make More World Trade Center Ground Zero Volunteers Eligible for Medical Compensation, Parker Waichman LLP Comments

Some Ground Zero volunteers have been unable to receive medical compensation for illnesses following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in Manhattan. A recent ruling may broaden eligibility standards.

  • Share on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on LinkedInShare on PinterestEmail a friend
“This ruling should expand the number of people who should be compensated as a result of their voluntary disregard for health and safety following the terrorist attacks in 2001,” said Gary Falkowitz, Managing Attorney at Parker Waichman.

Port Washington, New York (PRWEB) June 11, 2014

Parker Waichman LLP, a national law firm, comments on a state appeals court decision that may now make many more Ground Zero volunteers eligible for medical compensation. A unanimous panel of the Appellate Division, Third Department, ruled on June 5, 2014, that the Workers’ Compensation Board incorrectly limited the way in which it defined what constitutes a so-called “volunteer” first responder as only applying to those individuals who were “serving under the direction of an authorized rescue entity or volunteer agency.” The Opinion and Order in the State Of New York, Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Third Judicial Department was decided and entered on June 5, 2014 (Number 517129, in the Matter of the Claim of Jamie Hazan, versus the WTC Volunteer Fund et al. and the Workers' Compensation Board)

Ultimately, the Justice involved in the appeal ordered that the decision denying medical compensation be reversed involving volunteer worker, Jamie Hazan, “without costs, and matter remitted to the Workers' Compensation Board for further proceedings not inconsistent with this Court's decision.” (Number 517129, in the Matter of the Claim of Jamie Hazan, versus the WTC Volunteer Fund et al. and the Workers' Compensation Board)

“This ruling should expand the number of people who should be compensated as a result of their voluntary disregard for health and safety following the terrorist attacks in 2001,” said Gary Falkowitz, Managing Attorney at Parker Waichman. “These volunteers deserve maximum benefits and compensation for illnesses suffered and lost work time due to injuries resulting from their time at these rescue and recovery sites.”

The appeal involved a decision of the Workers' Compensation Board that was originally filed on September 19, 2012. At that time, the Board denied Mr. Hazan’s claim for workers’ compensation benefits because it found that he “was not a participant in the World Trade Center rescue, recovery, or cleanup operations.” (Opinion and Order: State Of New York, Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Third Judicial Department; June 5, 2014; Number 517129; in the Matter of the Claim of Jamie Hazan, versus the WTC Volunteer Fund et al. and the Workers' Compensation Board)

According to the ruling, Mr. Hazan, a former emergency medical technician, went to the World Trade Center site following that morning’s terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 to assist with rescue and recovery efforts. On his way, he learned that a triage center was being set-up at Manhattan’s Chelsea Piers and went toward that location, where he spent that day sorting supplies and creating a treatment area. The next day, he went to the Ground Zero site, where he presented his emergency medical technician card and badge to gain access, and spent the day helping to search for survivors. He ceased his volunteer work on September 12, 2001, according to the ruling. (Opinion and Order: State Of New York, Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Third Judicial Department; June 5, 2014; Number 517129; in the Matter of the Claim of Jamie Hazan, versus the WTC Volunteer Fund et al. and the Workers' Compensation Board)

Mr. Hazan was neither registered nor affiliated with a volunteer organization or agency during the two days in which he worked on rescue or recovery operations. He did register his participation as a volunteer in the World Trade Center rescue, recovery, and/or cleanup operations with the Workers' Compensation Board in March 2010 and later filed a workers’ compensation claim for benefits for alleged injuries tied to exposure to dust and toxins at the World Trade Center and Chelsea Pier sites, according to the ruling. (Opinion and Order: State Of New York, Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Third Judicial Department; June 5, 2014; Number 517129; in the Matter of the Claim of Jamie Hazan, versus the WTC Volunteer Fund et al. and the Workers' Compensation Board)

Ultimately, according to the ruling, a Workers' Compensation Law Judge determined that Mr. Hazan “sustained a compensable injury for gastroesophageal reflux disease, depression, anxiety, chronic rhinitis and sinusitis and awarded benefits.” The World Trade Center Volunteer Fund sought review of this determination and contended that Mr. Hazan did not meet the definition of "volunteer" because he did not provide proof that he was acting under the direction and control of a volunteer agency. In rebuttal, among other issues, Mr. Hazan argued that the case should have been made for asthma. The Board reversed the Workers' Compensation Law Judge’s decision and found that Mr. Hazan did not meet the definition of "first response emergency services personnel." Mr. Hazan appealed. (Opinion and Order: State Of New York, Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Third Judicial Department; June 5, 2014; Number 517129; in the Matter of the Claim of Jamie Hazan, versus the WTC Volunteer Fund et al. and the Workers' Compensation Board)

The Third Department indicated that the state statutes do not address World Trade Center responder benefits that could have denied Mr. Hazan’s application based on the Board’s interpretation of a “volunteer.” In fact, Justice John Egan Jr., for the 5-0 court, wrote "Noticeably absent ... is any requirement that such individual 'serve under the direction of an authorized rescue entity or volunteer agency,'" adding, "Accordingly, the board's imposition of such a requirement is, to our analysis, contrary to the plain terms of the statute." Justices John Lahtinen, William McCarthy, Robert Rose, and Michael Lynch joined in the ruling. (Opinion and Order: State Of New York, Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Third Judicial Department; June 5, 2014; Number 517129; in the Matter of the Claim of Jamie Hazan, versus the WTC Volunteer Fund et al. and the Workers' Compensation Board)

If you or a loved one believes you may be eligible for compensation following the terrorist attacks at Manhattan’s World Trade Center and would like assistance with your claim, please visit Parker Waichman LLP's World Trade Center Emergency Workers claims page at yourlawyer.com or call 1-800-LAW-INFO (1-800-529-4636).


Contact

Follow us on: Contact's Google Plus