The New York Times had this the other day:
Zero hour for 9/11 victims
By DAVID B. CARUSO
More than 1,600 people who filed lawsuits claiming their health was ruined by dust and smoke from the collapsed World Trade Center must decide by Jan. 2 whether to keep fighting in court, or drop the litigation and apply for benefits in a federal compensation fund.
For some, the choice is fraught with risk. Federal lawmakers set aside some $2.76 billion last winter for people who developed illnesses after spending time in the ash-choked zone.
But to be considered for a share of the aid, all potential applicants must dismiss any pending lawsuits by the deadline and give up their right to sue forever over 9/11 health problems. Anyone with a lawsuit still pending on Jan. 3 is barred from the program for life...
Confused enough yet? A 9/11 group I belong to sent out a mass email today, which clarifies:
January 2, 2012 deadline regarding the Victims Compensation Fund
There has been great confusion over the January 2, 2012 deadline regarding the Victims Compensation Fund. I want to use this email to help clarify some points and help you protect your rights.
First, the January 2, 2012 deadline only applies to those men and women who have CURRENTLY PENDING LITIGATION BEFORE A STATE OR FEDERAL COURT. For those who have currently pending litigation, it is imperative that you discuss this matter with your attorney and decide whether to continue your litigation or withdraw such court action so that you may enter the Victims Compensation Fund. If you do not withdraw the pending litigation prior to January 2, 2012 you will be barred from entering the Victims Compensation Fund. This appears to be a steadfast statute of limitations issue and there will be no exceptions. Please do not miss this deadline without giving this issue due and proper consideration.
Please note, that if you have previously settled all your court claims and are simply awaiting your final payments, this deadline does not apply to you. However, if you are uncertain whether you have currently pending litigation before any federal or state court, I urge you to contact your attorney immediately to ascertain this information. No one should miss this deadline due to lack of information!
For those that know they have currently pending litigation, and are uncertain whether their attorney has withdrawn the matter, I again urge you to contact your counsel immediately and advise them of your wishes. If you are unable to contact counsel timely, but wish to withdraw your claims, I urge you to write letters both to your attorney and Judge Hellerstein advising of your desire to have your claims withdrawn. I would suggest that you send these letters via certified, overnight mail or FedEx in order to properly track them and show proof that you attempted to withdraw your matters in a timely fashion.
In closing, for those that have currently pending litigation, please do not take this issue lightly. It is a very difficult choice that you face and I urge you all to listen to the advise of your attorneys. Neither I nor anyone other than counsel can properly inform you which avenue to choose, but I can advise you that inaction will make the choice for you. ..
All the First Responders who worked within the madness that was 9/11 need to be sure they have the FACTS to protect their rights to what they so selflessly EARNED on that day, and in the weeks and months following.