By Albert Samaha
By Steve Weinstein
By Devon Maloney
By Tessa Stuart
By Alison Flowers
By Albert Samaha
By Jesse Jarnow
By Eric Tsetsi
Today, according to the Port Authority, there are about $1.5 billion in remaining claims and about 400 remaining "600000/94" cases. A handful of WTC casesbetween five and tenwere filed in New Jersey; all have been settled or dismissed.
The WTC case has dragged on so long that plaintiffs have become discouraged, sometimes moved away, and often became frustrated with a process that they saw as taking forever. "Call me the next millennium," Helenmary Rapp, Mike Rapp's wife, says she was told by a lawyer.
The PA, on the other hand, views itself as "a victim of a bombing, a terrorist bombing almost seven years ago," says Allen Morrison, a spokesman for the PA. "This is a litigious society. So who do you sue? The Port Authority. That's what the story's about fundamentally."
But the families of people at the World Trade Center see it differently. For them, this is about people victimized twice, once by an event and once by a system. Ironically, the fact that many people, such as Rapp, were covered by workmen's compensation for medical costs, has turned into a double-edged sword. If the victims hadn't been at work, their own, often better, insurance policies would have covered them. Instead, they were plunged into the pool of workmen's comp cases, and then were caught up in a large bureaucracy, often slow to approve procedures and pay doctors. It took Rapp over a year, and finally a call from then Congressman Charles Schumer's office to workmen's compensation, to get a crucial operation approved and done. By the time the operation was done, infection had spread and a section of bone in his leg had to be removed.
"As bad as what happened to him was," says Helenmary Rapp, "worse than that was how we were treated by the government, the system. All he did was go to work. We were trapped in a system that doesn't work."