9/11 firefighter with cancer sues NYC in hopes of bigger payout than fed fund

Seeking to win some of the $310 million gathering dust in a little-known city 9/11-claims fund, a city firefighter who developed lymphoma after working at Ground Zero is suing NYC.

The Manhattan federal court lawsuit is highly unusual because it will bar Brian Kevan, 51, from filing a claim with the federal Victims Compensation Fund, which has doled out $7 billion to first responders and others sickened at Ground Zero.

Instead of filing the more common VCF claim, Kevan’s lawyers are going after a city fund — called the WTC Captive Insurance Co.– which started with $1 billion granted by Congress after 9/11. It was used to pay $700 million in a mass settlement with 10,000 Ground Zero responders in 2010.

Since then — and with the VCF paying almost all 9/11-related claims — the city has done little with the remaining money but pay its skeleton crew of employees, and earn interest.

“It’s a zombie insurance company,” a 9/11 lawyer not involved in the Kevan case told The Post.

Rescue workers climb on piles of rubble at Ground Zero in 2001.
Rescue workers climb on piles of rubble at Ground Zero in 2001.AP

Kevan can potentially collect more money from the city fund than from the VCF, the lawyer said. “It’s one guy for a pot of $300 million.”

But another lawyer hopes that Kevan was informed that the suit will legally bar him from filing a VCF claim: “The risk is real that he will never be able to collect for his cancer.”

Kevan, who made $138,500 last year,  told the Post he is currently on medical leave while undergoing treatment, but referred questions about the suit to his lawyers. “They’re handling everything.”

His lawyers, Christopher Lopalo and Paul Napoli, did not return calls or emails.

Lawyers typically collect 33 percent of any settlement or judgement, plus expenses. Under the VCF, legal fees are limited to 10 percent. The Captive does not set such legal-fee limits, but a judge can.

The Captive settled two similar lawsuits in 2017 by  9/11 responders also represented by Lopalo: Charles Torres, a Port Authority cop with prostate cancer, and Francis Johnston, an NYPD cop with pancreatic cancer.

But the two settlement amounts are being kept secret. The city Law Department said those suits did not name the city — only contractors insured by the city — and the cases were handled by the Captive.  The Captive would not disclose the sums.

The VCF pays a minimum $250,000 for pain and suffering, and  potentially  millions more in compensation for lost wages.

Among reported VCF awards: $3.7 million for an NYPD officer disabled due to leukemia; $2.8 million for a sanitation worker with skin cancer; 2.1 million for a stock broker with multiple myeloma; $1.9 million for a teacher with esophageal cancer; and $1.8 million for a downtown worker with kidney cancer.

Deadly 9/11 diseases

To date, 18,105 first responders, Ground Zero workers, downtown residents and others sickened by toxic dust and smoke from the WTC collapse have been diagnosed with one or more certified 9/11-related cancers. Of those, 1,045 have died. Here are the most common cancers claiming victims:

9/11 attacks
Getty Images

Source: Centers for Disease Control, data through  June 30 


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