Cincinnati firm heads up 9/11 compensation

MONTGOMERY - Police, firefighters and others soon will be compensated for injuries suffered from the World Trade Center destruction - following settlements determined by a local firm experienced in complex, emotionally charged personal injury cases.

Garretson Firm Resolution Group has been named by a federal judge in New York to administer the $712.5 million that the government will pay to more than 10,000 workers injured in rescue, recovery and debris removal efforts following the 9/11 terrorist attack.

The settlements will come after years of lawsuits against New York City and contractors, brought by workers who fell ill in the months and years following cleanup at the site.

"We're dealing with some profoundly injured people and working to bring them closure," says Matthew Garretson, president and founder of the firm. Some emergency responders can no longer work, are forced to take 15 medications and use breathing machines for regular treatment.

Once a law practice, Garretson Firm Resolution Group has evolved since its 1998 founding into a firm specializing in awarding settlement money in large, personal injury lawsuits. In the World Trade Center case, the firm will review medical and other records to determine how much each injured emergency responder will receive.

Garretson said workers will begin getting money this September, and most of the payments will be made by fall 2011. The case involves some workers who responded to the scene as the twin towers crumbled, while others worked for months cleaning up ground zero as wreckage smoldered.

The lawsuits in the case began in 2002 after some workers began suffering from ailments they attributed to toxic and hazardous materials at the site. Garretson's firm will apply a court-determined formula in evaluating individual claims.

The payout formula says families of deceased workers in the case will get between $1.5 million and $1.8 million. Workers with some lung and sleeping ailments will receive $12,000.

The World Trade Center settlement may be the highest-profile case to date for the Garretson firm. It began to specialize in its niche by administering civil rights claims in a settlement involving the Cincinnati Police Department a decade ago.

In that settlement, Garretson is credited with speeding up the resolution of 14 civil rights cases alleging abuse by police. Those cases were intertwined with a federal investigation into the Cincinnati Police Department's practices and policies, which led to Cincinnati agreeing to police reforms.

Civil rights lawyer Al Gerhardstein says Garretson came up with the idea of letting the city pay out a $4 million lump sum to cover all the plaintiffs in multiple cases instead of dragging the city through a gauntlet of negotiations. Garretson then helped devise a formula for splitting that lump sum depending on the severity of injury.

Gerhardstein recalls that Garretson's formula was based on a comprehensive study of 10 years worth of awards in similar cases in Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee. Showing plaintiffs the financial awards for similar cases helped assure them they were getting a fair settlement.

"Matt pioneered a global settlement technique," Gerhardstein says. "It was a very useful vehicle that allows lawyers to be more responsive to their clients - who don't understand why there are delays even after a settlement."

Since then, Garretson Firm has administered settlements in priest/child abuse cases involving the archdioceses of Cincinnati and Louisville. The firm participated in the settlement process for users of Vioxx, an arthritis drug found to contribute to heart attacks and strokes. The firm also was involved in settling claims stemming from a Rhode Island nightclub fire that killed more than 90 people in 2003.

Garretson says his firm specializes in more complex cases; he doesn't handle class-action awards that typically result in individual coupons for nominal amounts. His firm, which has 125 employees including a dozen lawyers, also retains about 35 doctors, nurses and other medical professionals to evaluate injuries.

Garretson's firm was brought into the World Trade Center case shortly before a tentative settlement was reached in March. Various lawyers in the case had recommended his firm for the task of awarding the individual claims.

The firm will be paid about $3.5 million for its services.

Awards to World Trade Center emergency responders are based on a formula that weighs the severity of the ailment, and assessing how strong a case the individual would have in court of proving a sickness was caused by exposure to the site.

Strong science linking blood cancers to toxic materials, for example, mean blood cancer victims in the case will be paid as much as $299,000. That compares to $23,000 to workers with a cancerous tumor.

World Trade Center plaintiffs can ask the firm to reconsider its initial decision and, after that review, appeal ultimately to Kenneth Feinberg. He was appointed by the court this month to hear and render final decisions of any plaintiffs who may challenge Garretson's award decisions.



If you would like to help educate these people on the realities of 9/11 you can contact them with the information below.

Garretson Firm Resolution Group

7775 Cooper Road
Cincinnati, OH 45242
888.556.7526 (toll-free)
513.794.0400 (t)
513.936.5186 (f)

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Write comments on this article. The readers already have an interest; give them some good information. I wrote the following.

World Trade Center buildings 1, 2, and 7 were destroyed by controlled demolition on 9/11. Planes did hit the buildings; however, powerful pre-planted explosives actually caused their collapse. Here’s why: 1) about 200 first responders gave testimony of hearing explosions, 2) buildings fell at free fall acceleration through 80,000 tons of structural steel designed specifically to withstand the load, crushing the entire massive supporting structure at the same rate as a cinder block falling through air. WTC 7, 47-stories tall was not hit by an airplane, but "collapsed" inexplicably at 5:20 PM. Watch footage of this. 3) laboratory evidence of massive quantities of military grade high explosives, both reacted and unreacted, discovered in the WTC dust. 4) Foreknowledge: there is much video documentation of foreknowledge of WTC implosions.