In a 2016 9/11 Memorial & and Museum seminar focusing on health effects, Paul Napoli had a wonderful chance of speaking about the devastating aftermath of the terrorist attack. The seminar had been set up to help employees of the Memorial & Museum understand more regarding the origins of the fatal effects of the attack, where things stood and the future impacts of the same. It was also a chance for those mandated with keeping the memory and remembrance of the insane attack well informed on diverse topics in relation to 9/11 and its issues that are ever around it.
Paul Napoli’s engagements with the 9/11 matter perhaps started when together with his staff in their law firm watched first hand, in abject horror, as the Twin Towers fell. He soon joined in the representation of claimants in a litigation that sought to ensure the first responders who suffered serious health effects due to exposure to toxic fumes received compensation to help enhance their lives. Paul has been highly involved not only in the legal but also social system in relation to 9/11 first responders and their families. He’s perpetually involved in charitable organizations and groups of advocacy to speak about the legal issues the victims still face and settlement issues.
Having worked for the first responders and their families and ensuring they got the best in terms of compensation and lasting help, Paul had been instrumental in lobbying the United States Congress and New York State for two critical laws to help the World Trade Center first responders, generally downtown residents, office workers and injured workers in various ways.
One is Jimmy Nolan’s Law, generally the General Municipal Law of New York section 50-1 amendment. The law was now able to put into statute a year of savings for responder claims that were time-barred. It ensured the extension of time for any person either involved in the recovery, clean up, rescue or injured in 9/11 to also seek some compensation to alleviate their suffering.
As he sought to speak about the Museum and how things stand, Paul’s Napoli Shkolnik law firm was giving as permanent collection in memory of 9/11. He spoke about the Zadroga Act and its importance, why it took so long to have the legislation passed and whether the Act’s provisions sufficiently satisfies the affected people’s needs. The Zadroga Bill is a very important legislation known as the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010. It was also one of the Acts Paul was heavily involved in lobbying to have it passed.
It’s named after James Zadroga, a detective at New York City Police Department who was the first officer of the NYPD whose participation in the first response at the world trade center led to his eventual demise. Before 9/11, Zadroga had zero respiratory complications and only started feeling the effects of the aftermath weeks after spending about 450 hours in various recovery efforts at Ground Zero. After the rescue efforts, the NYPD detective started having breathing problems after walking for just about 100 feet. His respiratory illness was adjudged to have been caused by exposure to toxic dust at the WTC Ground Zero for which he was awarded in 2004 about $1 million by the 9/11 victim compensation fund. In the same year, Zadroga’s request for early retirement on permanent disability grounds was approved once it was proved his health problems resulted from exposure to the toxic dust.
The Zadroga Act history goes back to the various efforts that went to have as many bills passed to expand all sorts of benefits and aid for first responders. This included the 2005’s Remember 9/11 Health Act by Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney but didn’t pass the committee stage. Senator Hillary Clinton also helped in the amendment of legislation related to ports security in 2006 that sought to have in place a five-year treatment program worth $1.9 billion for ground zero fumes and dust after-effects sufferers.
Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney returned again in 2009 with the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. After a long political tussle it was passed in 2010. A novel version of the Zadroga Act was passed also in 2010 by the United States House of Representatives. Nonetheless, the bill faced a Republican inspired filibuster by December 2010 and its passage seemed to hang in the balance. Together with other lobbyist in the media, such as Jon Stewart whose advocacy journalism had a lasting effect that made members of Congress come to terms, Paul was one of those delighted to see the final bill approved by Congress by 22nd December 2010. It was signed on 2nd January 2011 into law by President Barack Obama. The Zadroga Act extended ad infinitum the WTC Health Program Fund allowing those affected and members of the family of deceased first workers and first responders to keep filing for compensation under the 2001 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund.
It meant that these heroes and their families would continue getting medical monitoring, cash awards and medical treatment for injury suffered. It extended to first responders including other survivors of the terrorist attack, community members and workers in the local offices. The Zadroga Act had actually expired on 1st October 2015. A collective effort by media personalities, first responders, politicians and passionate people like Paul campaigned dexterously for its re-authorization. This happened towards the end of 2015. The Zadroga Act was accorded a 75-year extension up to 2090.
Even with the eventual passage of the legislation, Paul’s efforts and dedication to the 9/11 victims continues as he’s a perpetual generous contributor to all the memorials related to 9/11 including the Memorial Museum, which Napoli is a staunch supporter of. People forget fast and through the museum he believes that the life-altering events of the fateful day are never forgotten, including the people who lost their lives in the attack.
It’s actually the huge knowledge of the legal obstacles that arose when fighting for settlement, information on the attacks and personal details on the recovery and cleanup that made Anthony DePalma to profile Paul Napoli in his City of Dust book.