Turley, Hansen & Rosasco, LLP is a law firm that focuses exclusively on representing Downtown residents and workers impacted by exposure to toxins in the air after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. As they seek financial compensation and medical care for their clients, the firm is emerging as one of the leading advocates for people made sick by exposure to toxins when the towers of the World Trade Center fell. Although the partners at Turley, Hansen, and Rosasco, based in Midtown, have decades of collective experience in areas like product liability, medical malpractice, and disability claims, they have set aside these specialties to concentrate exclusively on representing survivors of the attacks that laid waste to Lower Manhattan 17 years ago.
“We help individuals and families who are dealing with some of the hardest challenges that people can ever face, such as illness and the possibility of death,” explains Troy Rosasco. “If it’s related to 9/11, we handle it. I represented my first 9/11 compensation case client in October of 2001, and unfortunately new claims keep coming in 16 years later.”
“This is our sole practice,” adds Dan Hansen. “It’s all that we do. And we’re the only firm in the nation that does this work exclusively. I previously practiced litigation and trial work representing people who were harmed by catastrophes like defective products or medical malpractice. I also did civil rights work. And my partner, Troy, focused on the claims under workers compensation and Social Security disability. But we’ve always been about advocating for individuals, and establishing liability and damages.”
“Because we spent many years establishing that people can’t work, and then quantifying how they should be compensated,” Mr. Rosasco reflects, “our experience ties in directly with the new area of 9/11 victim compensation claims.”
“This is more complicated than most people realize,” observes Mr. Hansen, “because these systems overlap and what happens in one disability program dramatically affects what happens in another.” As an example, he cites the Victims Compensation Fund (VCF), “which relies on Social Security findings to determine awards. Thus, once we’ve established to the satisfaction of the Social Security system that a client is disabled, further awards from the VCF are presumptive, since they are both federal programs. So it’s important to approach this in a coordinated way, which we are able to do.”
Mr. Hansen continues, “part of the value we offer is that, unlike most firms representing people harmed by 9/11, we don’t farm things out. We do all of this in-house. And we’re a single point of contact for the client.”
Another upside is continuity. “The way the VCF is set up,” says Mr. Rosasco, “if a client develops additional disabilities related to 9/11, we can amend their claim at any time in the future. A person we represent might come to us initially for simple breathing problems and we get an award for them from the VCF based on that. Later, God forbid, if they develop a 9/11-related cancer, we can get them an additional award and lifelong medical care. So if they get worse, we can do more for them, and get more compensation and healthcare for them.”
Currently, the firm represents approximately 2,500 clients and has collected more than $100 million in compensation awards for clients to date. The fee for these services is a surprisingly modest 10 percent, set by the government. Turley, Hansen, & Rosasco works on a contingency basis, charging nothing if they do not win an award on the client’s behalf. But while contingency fees in other areas of law can range up to one-third of an award, for 9/11 survivors, it is capped at ten percent.
Mr. Hansen notes that, “when it created the VCF, Congress took the position, quite rightly, that lawyers should not be enriched by 9/11 claims. They wrote into the law that the fee cannot be more than 10 percent. This is exactly the same for all lawyers, which leaves almost the entire award for the victim. And it’s something the government should be very proud of: taking care of victims first.”
This value is further enhanced by the services that the firm provides at no charge. “Our advice and help getting medical conditions ‘certified for medical coverage’ under the 9/11 World Trade Center Health Program are free”, explains Mr. Hansen. “This is closely related to establishing eligibility for compensation, but there is no actual financial component to it. So we offer this as a complimentary service for our clients.”
Turley, Hansen, & Rosasco’s success rate is approximately 95% percent when seeking financial compensation and lifetime health care for Downtown clients.
“The people we represent are often just as concerned about healthcare as they are about compensation,” reflects Mr. Rosasco. “Many, if they are out of work because of the disability, have lost their healthcare coverage. But 9/11-related conditions are covered 100 percent for life through the World Trade Center Health Program, at some of the best medical centers across the nation, including Memorial Sloan-Kettering, with no co-pays, no deductibles and free prescriptions.”
“We’ve taken this position because clients with these types of conditions need to be represented holistically,” he continues. “A good lawyer can’t advocate on the client’s behalf just for compensation, or just for coverage. To do the job right, you have to look at the whole basket.”
The medical care that Turley, Hansen, & Rosasco fights to secure for their clients can be, in some ways, more critical than the financial awards they win. “We’re witnessing a silent epidemic of cancer diagnosis related to 9/11,” says Mr. Hansen. “There’s a dramatically increased rate of diagnosis for diseases that have been certified as caused by exposure to World Trade Center toxins. And for some of the cancers that people are getting, the longer we get from 9/11, they more likely they are to be diagnosed.”
Mr. Rosasco adds that, “for aero-digestive conditions, if you’re good now, you’re probably okay. The 9/11 Health Program requires you to have shown symptoms within five years of exposure. But for some of the cancers, it’s just the opposite. The minimum latency for most cancers is four years, and many people are only now showing symptoms for the first time. That means they are still eligible, even if diagnosed between 2005 to 2018”
“There are questions we hear over and over again,” Mr. Hansen recounts, “such as clients wanting to know how they can prove that a cancer was caused by 9/11. Although the criteria are very intricate, for the most part, if you have one of the 70-plus cancers on the list and you were in the exposure zone on day of the attacks or in the months that followed, you get a presumption that it was caused by 9/11.”
“But it’s very important to present these in the right way,” Mr. Rosasco adds, “and establishing this link is something at which we have particular experience”.
“We’re in touch with clients about this every day,” reflects Mr. Hansen, “giving them guidance, helping them to get healthcare. We’re actively involved in procuring care and getting them to treatment centers. The conditions that 9/11 victims suffer from are complicated and unique, especially in how these different symptoms and diseases relate to one another. Being treated in one place for all of these is much better than jumping around among multiple doctors, who don’t speak to each other.”
“That’s our approach, as well,” Mr. Rosasco notes: “We coordinate in the same way that the health program does, but on the legal side.”
“And it’s not just physical ailments,” he continues. “The Health Program also provides care for conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and anxiety. These people have emotional scars, some of which are very permanent. We speak with these people every day.” He adds the caveat that, “the VCF has made it their policy not to give compensation for psychological conditions, only physical conditions.”
Both Mr. Hansen and Mr. Rosasco emphasize the importance of anybody affected by the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 seeking legal help immediately. “The process can take up to 18 months, and the VCF is currently scheduled to close to new applicants on December 18, 2020,” Mr. Hansen notes. “Imagine how unfair it will be if one survivor is diagnosed on December 1, 2020 and is eligible, but another is diagnosed on December 30, 2020 and is locked out.” He adds that the Health Program is currently funded through the year 2090, “so medical care will still be available, even if the VCF is phased out.”
“Of course, there will be a massive push to get this program extended,” predicts Mr. Rosasco. “But waiting doesn’t help. There’s no downside to moving ahead now. There’s only upside.”
As partners in the only firm in America focused exclusively on winning compensation for September 11 survivors, Mr. Hansen and Mr. Rosasco are deeply enmeshed in granular side of an evolving body of law and policy. “We speak with the staff at the VCF every day, and consult regularly with their leadership,” notes Mr. Hansen, “and we’re also in regular touch with the Special Master who runs the VCF.” They are also involved as plaintiffs’ lawyers in the ongoing lawsuit against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, alleging that negligence by that nation makes it liable for damages to the survivors and victims’ families.
“We’re living this every day,” says Mr. Rosasco. “We are dealing with people who are very sick with devastating diseases. It becomes personal after a while. You can’t help, as a lawyer, but to take a lot of this home.”
Asked to sum up, Mr. Hansen says simply, “I’m very proud that this is the type of law that we do.”
To contact Mr. Hansen or Mr. Rosasco, please call 646-517-4447, or visit their website at www.911cancerclaim.com
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