Zadroga Act Update: COPD Is Now An Independent Injury

Author: Cynthia Diaz Shephard/Wed, Sep 07, 2016/Categories: Blog

COPD—chronic obstructive pulmonary disease—is now an independent injury under the Zadroga Act. This means that COPD is covered independently and without any prior diagnosis or tie with any other respiratory illness when making a claim under the Act.

The Zadroga Act is comprised of both the World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program and the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF). The WTC Program provides treatment and monitoring, while the VCF provides compensation. Tens of thousands of people suffering from 9/11-related injuries are treated through the program and even more are monitored.

Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, responders and survivors were exposed to an array of dangerous substances, including asbestos, pulverized cement, and other toxins, chemicals, and carcinogens. Toxic exposure has been associated with a variety of significant, life-altering, life-threatening health conditions such as asthma, COPD, gastroesophageal reflux disease, and scores of different types of cancer.

New-onset COPD previously became a covered injury under the Zadroga Act. At that time, according to the September 11th Families Association, only pre-September 11th COPD cases that had worsened due to the attacks were covered. Meanwhile, a growing number of recovery workers and survivors of the 9/11 terrorist attacks have been dealing with attack-related COPD for years. Now, COPD is covered without prior diagnosis or association with another respiratory illness under the Zadroga Act.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)/National Institutes of Health (NIH)/National Heart, Lung, and Blood Activity describes COPD as a progressively worsening lung disease that makes breathing difficult, even when attempting activities of daily living. COPD, which has no cure, may cause coughing with excess mucus, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and wheezing, among other serious symptoms. In the United States, COPD includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis and is known under the names chronic bronchitis, chronic obstructive airway disease, chronic obstructive lung disease, and emphysema.

When diagnosed with COPD, individuals experience reduced oxygen flow in and out of the lungs’ airways because the airways and sacs lose their elasticity (emphysema), the walls between the air sacs are destroyed (emphysema), the airway walls thicken or become inflamed (chronic bronchitis), and/or, the airways make excessive mucus, potentially causing clogs (chronic bronchitis) that adversely affect breathing.

COPD is a major cause of disability and is now the third leading cause of death in the U.S. Millions are diagnosed with COPD and many more may be unaware that they have COPD because of how slowly the disease develops.

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New York Extends Time for Filing Superfund Site Personal Injury Lawsuits

Author: F.A. Kelley/Fri, Jul 22, 2016/Categories: Blog

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has just signed a new law extending the time New Yorkers have to file personal injury claims when they are exposed to contaminants from a Superfund site.

The bill, shepherded to passage by assembly member John McDonald and state senator Kathy Marchione, came in response to water contamination in the towns of Hoosick Falls and Petersburgh, New York. The law helps to address contamination from the Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics plant in Hoosick Falls, which was declared a state Superfund site earlier this year. Residents there had only recently begun to learn about the health impacts of the contaminated water, including rare cancers, LongIsland.com reports. Under existing law, the statute of limitations barred those who have been sick for more than five years from filing suit. The newly signed law resets the limits for residents in any area designated a Superfund site by either the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

On November 25, 2015, the EPA recommended that, based on the presence of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) above 400 ppt in the Village of Hoosick Falls public drinking water supply, people should not drink the water from the Hoosick Falls public water supply or use it for cooking.

PFOA is a manmade chemical; it is toxic and persists in the environment.  PFOA is used in a variety of products including fire-fighting foams, coating additives, and cleaning products, according to the EPA

New York’s new law establishes a new civil practice law–CPLR 214-f –that resets the statute of limitations when a site is declared a Superfund site or based on the existing date-of-discovery rule in existing CPLR 214-c, whichever is later.

CPLR 214-c is the state’s original Toxic Tort Law and it allows legal action to begin within three years of the date on which the injury was discovered or reasonably should have been discovered, or within one year after the cause of the injury was discovered or reasonably should have been discovered if that occurs less than five years after discovery of the injury, the New York State Trial Lawyers Association (NYSTLA) reports.

NYSTLA says the new law is important because people exposed to toxic substances “may not know at the time of the exposure that harm is occurring, may not discover the injury until it reveals itself in an illness such as cancer, and may not realize the cause of the injury until the hazard is publicly identified when an area is declared a Superfund site.” Experts hope the new law will help create an incentive for parties to clean up contaminated sites to avoid Superfund listing and exposure to personal injury lawsuits.

The EPA said it would continue to collect samples in spring 2016, including soil samples in areas near the Saint-Gobain McCaffrey Street facility, and samples of soil, groundwater and storm drains at the McCaffrey Street facility.

 

 

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Two Men Injured in Hit and Run Outside Queens Restaurant

Author: F.A. Kelley/Wed, Dec 02, 2015/Categories: Other Topics

Two men standing outside a fried chicken restaurant in Queens, New York early Tuesday morning were injured when they were struck by an out-of-control car that smashed into the side of the building.

The car that hit the men and the building appears on a surveillance camera on that block just seconds before it slammed into the restaurant, striking the men standing outside, television station ABC7 reports. The accident occurred at about 12:30 a.m. Tuesday at the corner of Springfield Avenue and Hempstead Avenue.

Police say the cause of the crash was not clear and the driver had left the scene by the time police arrived, according to ABC7. Local residents who regularly cross at the intersection say speeding and careless driving are common in the area.

The fried chicken restaurant was open at the time of the accident, though no one inside the restaurant was hurt. Neighboring shopkeepers say that the entire building shook from the impact. The two men who were hurt both suffered leg injuries. They were taken to North Shore-LIJ Hospital with non-life threatening injuries, ABC7 reports.

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Long Island Man Killed in All-Terrain Vehicle Crash

Author: F.A. Kelley/Wed, May 27, 2015/Categories: Blog

A 36-year-old man from Bellmore, NY, was killed Sunday in an all-terrain vehicle crash, state police said.

The crash occurred in Tompkins, in upstate Delaware County at about 9:30 p.m., Newsday reports. Keith J. Stratton was killed on impact, police said.

When state troopers responded to a 911 call, they found Stratton dead in a shallow creek bed near the overturned vehicle. Police say Stratton was attending a family party in the area and decided to take a ride on the ATV. He failed to negotiate a turn and overturned the vehicle into the creek, according to Newsday. Police said Stratton was not wearing a helmet.

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