STOX-SOCKED FUND PAYS LAWYERS, STIFFS HEROES
By SUSAN EDELMAN, NY Post
The insurance fund created to cover claims by Ground Zero workers is losing millions of dollars on the stock market while spending mounting sums on lawyers and overhead, raising fears that little will be left for sick and dying 9/11 responders, The Post has learned.
The WTC Captive Insurance Co., a nonprofit governed by officials appointed by Mayor Bloomberg, has spent $172 million on administrative and legal costs since 2004 - but paid just $320,000 to five workers with orthopedic injuries, records show.
Some 10,000 rescue and cleanup workers - many suffering from respiratory ailments, cancer and other illnesses blamed on toxic exposure - have filed lawsuits.
Congress gave the city $1 billion in 9/11 aid to compensate rescue and cleanup workers, but the city has chosen to fight the claims in court.
The fund recently dipped below $1 billion for the first time - to $968 million as of Sept. 30 - as the economy hit a downturn. Previously, interest earned on its investments covered the overhead and attorney fees.
"It's a travesty that the lawyers and administrators given the task of distributing these funds have reaped all the money to compensate themselves," said Paul Napoli, a lawyer for the workers.
In reports obtained by The Post, Captive's chief financial officer, James Schoenbeck, blamed losses on the "difficult investment environment."
The fund lost more than $7 million alone in the three months ending Sept. 30, records show.
Four more years!