The law firm that pocketed more than $100 million suing the city over Sept. 11 is trying to cash in on the just-passed Zadroga 9/11 health bill.Imagine how angry Bern would be if the news story noted how much he was giving to the same Democrats pushing this bill. Some $86,000 alone in the 2008 election cycle. Oh wait, he gave $1,000 to Peter King. The other $85,000 went to Democrats, who surely will reap the rewards come 2012. No coincidence Bern also lavished thousands on that ultimate ambulance chaser, John Edwards.
The hunt was on even before the House put its final stamp of approval on the $4.3 billion James Zadroga Health and Compensation Act last Wednesday - and long before President Obama signs it next week.
Ads began popping up touting Zadroga-Act.com with the tease: "WTC Compensation Fund: Free Consultation. Call Us Today." Clicking on that link, though, doesn't take you to a do-gooder advice site. It leads to the website of Worby Groner Edelman & Napoli Bern, the lawyers who represented most of the 10,000 9/11 plaintiffs and grabbed the bulk of the $150 million in contingency fees - about 25% - from the $625 million settlement.
A source said the firm also sent text messages to the phones of their 9/11 clients. Responders found the quick strike for new clients and paydays unsavory.
"Ten million each, or whatever they each cleared, wasn't enough for them?" said John Feal, a Ground Zero construction worker and leading advocate.
A source familiar with the legal dealings was disgusted the firm is using the Zadroga name to drum up business: "They really have no shame," the source said.
Another expert involved in settlements was more charitable, but agreed what's going on looks like "ambulance chasing."
"It's not unethical and it's perfectly legal, but I'm a little surprised," the legal eagle said. "It's bad judgment, and it's what gets lawyers in trouble with the public."
Marc Bern, one of the top partners at the firm and a veteran class-action warrior, reacted angrily to the suggestion the speedy client-seeking is unseemly. He said the online ads didn't start running until the House voted on the bill - but the firm clearly was prepared to jump.
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