A lawyer for two of the 9/11 sickness cases believes he has a smoking gun to prove that firefighters were improperly equipped at Ground Zero, and should have been given respirators. Lawyer Andrew Carboy, whose firm represents more than 600 firefighters, found the city documents on respirator requirements buried among nearly 3 million other FDNY documents that were only released this past summer. Carboy told the News, "They provide everyone with helmets, with bunker gear, with [air] packs. They could have done the same with respirators, and they withheld the documents saying they had a program to do it."

Carboy represents two of the firefighters, Frank Malone and the late Raymond Hauber, whose cases were chosen to go to trial in Manhattan this May from a pool of more than 10,000 health complaints, all claiming illness after work at the WTC Manhattan site or at Fresh Kills on Staten Island. According to Carboy, the FDNY didn't follow its own guidelines on respirators, and only had 600 of them available for more than 11,200 uniformed firefighters when the twin towers fell. Meanwhile, city defense attorneys want to throw out many of the first lawsuits headed for trial, which they claim are "baseless."