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I have kept quiet about the way the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund handled my injury claim until now. You move on. You try to forgive and forget. But now it’s being reported that New York City and the White House are facing off about $125 million in unused funds for ground zero workers with long-term lung damage that may not appear for years. I know first-hand how claims were handled, and it was a crime.
Here’s what happened to me: I lived three blocks south of the Trade Center. I had extremely well-documented injuries and long-term lung damage from inhaling the toxic smoke at the disaster scene. The prosecutor assigned to my case refused to even look at doctors’ reports presented by my pro bono lawyer. Even though my dog and I were ferried from West Street and taken to a Jersey City hospital by ambulance to be treated for smoke inhalation, the prosecutor said “prove that you were there. Show me three people who can document that you were there.” But I was alone in the horrified crowd and knew nobody who was there. Nor could I possibly ever find them again.
The building I lived in and was evacuated from was in the EPA “red zone.” I was close enough to count the jumpers as the buildings burned. However, the prosecutor insisted that, since the crowd was herded into Battery Park, I was not really in the red zone during the disaster. You see, I was in front of the building and not in the back, therefore not close enough to qualify for injury benefits. Case dismissed.
Scratch the surface of the funding flap and I can assure you that what lies beneath is fetid indeed.