Two of the law firms representing 9/11 first responders are in a fight over expenses incurred during the massive lawsuit with the city. Andrew J. Carboy, a lawyer at Sullivan Papain Block McGrath & Cannavo PC, who represent nearly 700 plaintiffs, filed a notice yesterday that he plans to challenge over $400,000 of more than $1.75 million in common benefit costs submitted by Worby Groner Edelman & Napoli Bern LLP, which represents more than 9,000 plaintiffs in the litigation.
Common benefit costs reduce the amount of lawyers fees in the case, and if approved, would come off the top of the pending $712.5 million settlement offer. Carboy claims that Worby-Napoli, who previously reduced their legal fees, disguised more than $220,000 in payments to outside lawyers as "expert costs," including medical reviews by a physician who lost his license as a "threat to the public health."
"Treating these fees as 'expert costs' circumvents the 25 percent contingent-fee agreement in place for plaintiffs accepting the terms of the settlement...No World Trade Center responder should pay any of these costs," Carboy said, according to the Manhattan federal court filing. Lawyer Paul Napoli defended all the expenses as "perfectly justifiable" and "perfectly legitimate," and added, "Sullivan Papain did zero from Day One of this litigation. They rode on our coattails...They shouldn't be second-guessing what we did. They should have been helping us all along, and the record reflects that they didn't."