2014

Statement by WTC Captive Insurance Company on Hearing Regarding Settlement of Rescue, Recovery and Debris Removal Claims

NEW YORK, March 19 /PRNewswire/ -- WTC Captive Insurance Company released today the following statement and fact sheet on a hearing held by Federal District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein, of the Southern District of New York.

"We strongly believe the settlement that we have reached is fair, providing timely, guaranteed compensation based on the severity of the claimed injury and the legal strength of that claim.  Every party involved, the plaintiffs and the defendants, came to the World Trade Center site to help the country and the City recover from the terrorist attack of 9/11.  Every one of them deserves respect, empathy and a fair and just outcome.  Our settlement provides that, ranging from thousands of dollars to over a million, without further delay and the uncertainty of years of litigation, in addition to health monitoring and care, already provided by the City."  

FACTS ABOUT THE SETTLEMENT

  • The settlement enables more than 10,000 plaintiffs to obtain fair compensation for their claims of injuries against the City of New York and its contractors who participated in the rescue, recovery and debris removal operations at the World Trade Center site and who are insured by the WTC Captive Insurance Company.

  • The settlement was carefully negotiated under very difficult and complicated factual and legal circumstances.

  • The settlement amount is $575 million, but that number increases if 96% or more of all plaintiffs with claims opt into the settlement.  If all plaintiffs agree to the settlement, an additional 10% of $575 million, or another $57.5 million, will be due.  In addition, $25 million in Contingent Payments may be paid in installments of up to $5 million per year over the next five years depending on how many new claims are filed, how much is spent on paying the claims of those who do not accept this settlement and other related claims against the City.  The possible maximum due totals up to $657.5 million.  

  • The $575 million is broken down as follows:
    • $477.7 million – Ground Zero workers and first responders.
    • $3.4 million – Clean-up workers in surrounding buildings.
    • $12.9 million – Individuals who were Ground Zero workers and cleaned up surrounding buildings.
    • $57.5 million – Supplemental payments for plaintiffs found to be permanently disabled.  The amount will depend on the number of plaintiffs who establish eligibility and will be adjusted as much as 50% up or down depending on age and other factors.  
    • $23.4 million – Premium payments for an insurance policy for plaintiffs, insuring them for a maximum benefit of $100,000 payable if they contract one of a number of specified cancers.

  • The settlement establishes a process by which an "allocation neutral," an independent, neutral third-party agreed upon by plaintiffs' attorneys and the WTC Captive, will oversee the process to determine each plaintiff's illness or injury and each plaintiff's resulting payment(s) under the settlement.  

  • The allocation neutral, who the parties expect to identify in the coming weeks, will have mass tort claim resolution experience and be assisted by a claims-processing company and a medical panel of at least three licensed physicians.  

  • A wide range of projected recoveries is likely.  More than 10,000 plaintiffs allege a variety of injuries of differing types and severity, with their claims subject to multiple factors that affect their individual merits, such as the type of injury and pre-existing conditions.  The parties will receive individual payments ranging from thousands of dollars to potentially in excess of one million dollars.

  • With respect to the amount of the settlement allocated to each of the Court's Master Dockets, the settlement provides for payments based on four injury tiers.  Plaintiffs who qualify for tiers 1, 2 or 3 will receive guaranteed payments of fixed amounts.  Plaintiffs who qualify for tier 4 – the tier that includes the most highly-valued injuries – will receive a range of larger payments based on their submissions of medical proof and other information, which the third-party allocation neutral will assess based on the point system, including its adjustment factors, set forth in the settlement.  Plaintiffs may consult with their attorneys concerning their respective tier 1-3 payment amounts or their expected tier 4 payment range before electing to opt in to the settlement.  

  • Individuals who worked or volunteered in the World Trade Center rescue, recovery and debris removal project are entitled to and have received free medical care, including monitoring, at the Centers of Excellence funded by the City of New York and the federal government.  Nothing in the settlement affects plaintiffs' continued access to this free monitoring and care.  

  • Plaintiffs who receive disability benefits related to their 9/11 service will continue to receive those benefits.  Nothing in the settlement requires them to give up those benefits.

  • Consistent with other settlements, plaintiffs who receive worker's compensation benefits will continue to do so subject to offsets as required by law.

  • Certain plaintiffs have private health insurance.  Nothing in the settlement limits in any way those benefits.

  • Should a plaintiff contract certain types of cancer in the future, he or she will be protected by enrolling in a Cancer Insurance Policy underwritten by MetLife Insurance Company, subject to regulatory approval, and funded as part of the settlement.  This MetLife policy will provide an additional payment of up to $100,000 per insured for those future injuries.

  • The settlement includes the WTC Captive and all of its insureds, but does not include the many other defendants that are parties in these cases.  It will be up to the plaintiffs and those other defendants to determine how to proceed, whether by settlement or litigation, but this settlement presents a pathway for settling plaintiffs to recover additional monies from other defendants.

  • Attorney fees in this case have been reasonable given the complex legal and scientific issues, defenses that can and have been raised, and the sheer volume of approximately 616,000 separate claims.  Plaintiffs' attorneys' fees have been agreed upon by their clients and are consistent with contingency fee arrangements in other cases.

Media Contacts


212-547-5505


Eileen O'Connor, McDermott Will & Emery LLP

emoconnor@mwe.com


Caroline Gentile, Kekst and Company

Caroline-gentile@kekst.com


Micheline Tang, Kekst and Company

Micheline-tang@kekst.com



SOURCE WTC Captive Insurance Company




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