MIREYA NAVARRO
N.Y. Times
May 3, 2010

  • A d v e r t i s e m e n t
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As a United States District Court judge in Manhattan, he has had a singular perspective on the towers — specifically, the suffering that has lingered long after the terrorist attacks that leveled them in 2001.

As the federal judge who has overseen the wrongful death, property damage and personal injury lawsuits arising from 9/11, Judge Hellerstein, 76, has developed a visible empathy for both the families of the victims and for the workers who fell ill after the rescue and cleanup efforts.

“He had my clients in his chambers for over one hour to listen to them,” said Norman Siegel, a lawyer for families seeking to recover human remains from the debris that was carted off to the Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island. “He, more than anyone, understands deeply the pain.”

Saluting the workers as “heroes,” he said that the compensation was inadequate, the terms were poorly understood by the plaintiffs and lawyers should not expect to extract their fees from the $657.5 million payout. He would also reduce those fees.

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