NEW YORK (November 19, 2010) — McDermott Will & Emery lawyers served as principal architects of today’s landmark settlement of the World Trade Center Disaster Site Litigation involving the City of New York and its contractors, ending more than six years of litigation with over 10,000 plaintiffs.
Over 95 percent of eligible plaintiffs elected to opt in to the settlement agreement, exceeding the Opt-In Threshold set forth in the World Trade Center Litigation Settlement Process Agreement approved on June 23, 2010, and believed to be the highest opt-in percentage achieved in any mass tort litigation in United States history. In addition, an overwhelming 98 percent of the plaintiffs claiming the most severe injuries accepted the settlement. The plaintiffs, who will receive at least $625 million in compensation, were first responders and workers who alleged injuries as the result of participating in the rescue, recovery and debris removal efforts at Ground Zero following the terrorist attack of 9/11.
McDermott partner Margaret H. Warner was lead attorney representing the WTC Captive Insurance Company established to defend and indemnify the City of New York and the contractors it hired to conduct the rescue, recovery and debris removal operations. During the six years of this engagement, McDermott worked in seamless collaboration with Christine LaSala, President and CEO, and David R. Biester, General Counsel, of the WTC Captive. Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York previously declared the settlement “fair and reasonable,” in the face of “potent defenses” held by the City and its contractors under the law.
“This has been one of the largest, most emotionally wrenching and legally complex mass torts in our nation’s history,” said Jeffrey E. Stone, Co-Chair of McDermott Will & Emery. “The precedent set in this case may well serve as a model for how our nation resolves any future large scale disaster litigation.”
“We are enormously proud of the McDermott team that fashioned and negotiated this immensely complicated settlement,” added Peter J. Sacripanti, Co-Chair of McDermott. “Our lawyers worked under tremendous pressure for many years to bring about this settlement, and close a very difficult chapter in our nation’s history.”
“This process has been intense for all, but the numbers of people opting in show that the settlement we developed and the process to obtain compensation have been judged fair and transparent by those plaintiffs,” said Margaret H. Warner, who negotiated the settlement on behalf of the WTC Captive Insurance Co. “Crafting this settlement has been especially challenging given the emotional significance of the work done by all, plaintiffs and defendants, in aid of our country in those difficult days and months. It was important that the compensation reflect the seriousness of injuries claimed and the strength of the legal claim, while also being transparent in all respects.”
In addition to Warner, other key members of the McDermott team representing the WTC Captive include partners Mark Collins, Ryan Smethurst and Joshua Rogaczewski as well as associate Andrew Genz. They devised a fair, transparent, and efficient process by which plaintiffs could obtain compensation and also protected against potential fraud in the process. McDermott’s Eileen M. O’Connor assisted in developing legal strategy as well as in communicating all aspects of the settlement to the media and the public.
McDermott Will & Emery is a premier international law firm with a diversified business practice. Numbering more than 1,000 lawyers, we have offices in Boston, Brussels, Chicago, Düsseldorf, Houston, London, Los Angeles, Miami, Milan, Munich, New York, Orange County, Rome, San Diego, Silicon Valley and Washington, D.C. Extending our reach to Asia, we have a strategic alliance with MWE China Law Offices in Shanghai.