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Michael Barasch Interviewed About Teachers and Students Sickened by 9/11 Toxins

On July 7, attorney Michael Barasch joined iHeartRadio host Shelli Sonstein on Sonstein Sessions to discuss a little-known aspect of the post-9/11 health crisis: the long-term effects on teachers and students in lower Manhattan in 2001 and 2002. Also on hand were Michal Novemsky and Ronald Valenzuela, students at the time who have since developed 9/11-related cancers, and United Federation of Teachers executive Ellie Engler, also a 9/11 cancer survivor. A podcast of the full episode can be found here, but pertinent points of the discussion follow.

After the 9/11 terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center, 13 schools in the area were closed due to the impact of the toxic plume. Unfortunately, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, no doubt under pressure to help normalize lower Manhattan, certified the air was safe. So, Stuyvesant High School at 345 Chambers Street, just half a mile from Ground Zero, re-opened within one month, on October 9, 2001. The other 12 schools re-opened on Feb. 4, 2002. There were 5,505 students in schools that closed and another 1,200 in schools that didn’t close because they were considered outside the zone. In addition, hundreds of teachers were exposed.

Michal Novemsky was a 15-year-old student at Stuyvesant High School on September 11, 2001. She was evacuated along with the rest of the school as the towers collapsed. Fifteen years later, at age 30, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Although she has a family history of the disease, the presence of such an aggressive form of breast cancer at such a young age is an indication that 9/11 toxicity played a role. Ronald Valenzuela was in his late 20s at the time of the attacks. Fifteen years later, he suffered internal bleeding he learned was due to colon cancer.

As Michael Barasch explained, the public is well aware that first responders have been suffering from 9/11 illnesses, but residents, workers, educators and students were also exposed to the toxic time bomb, and they are falling ill as well. Today, the WTC Health Program presumes that your illness is 9/11-related if you were in Manhattan, south of Canal Street, from the day of the attacks, September 11, 2001, to May 30, 2002, and you develop one of 68 listed cancers after 2005. When we realize there were about 30,000 people living south of Canal Street, and another 300,000 working there at the time, we begin to understand the true scope of the problem.

Unfortunately, too many eligible people who have become sick either do not connect their illness to 9/11 exposure or do not know they are eligible for free healthcare and compensation. The clock is ticking for them, because in three and a half years, the 9/11 fund closes.  Therefore, anyone who suspects an illness may be 9/11-related must act now.

Barasch & McGarry represents a dozen clients who were students at the time of the terrorist attacks who have subsequently been diagnosed with cancer. If you have questions about your eligibility for Zadroga Act benefits, contact our experienced attorneys who have represented 9/11 survivors from the outset. Call 888-351-9421 or contact our office online.

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Compensation available to residents and office workers, teachers and students – not just responders and volunteers
Deadline Extended To Register Claims Must file within 2 years from the date your cancer was linked to WTC toxic dust
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  • "Barasch McGarry Salzman & Penson handled everything professionally and with patience. They always had time to answer all my questions and did what they promised. Thanks esp to Brian Calamaris Lee London, and Mariya Atanasova. Thank you." - William Collins, FDNY

  • "If I could give them six stars I would...don't even bother talking to anyone else concerning 9/11. The whole team worked night and day to deliver an outstanding settlement. They are honest, hard working and extremely professional. Just make the one phone call and let them do the rest." - Les Margulis, resident in the exposure zone

  • "I had a very good experience with Michael and Mariya. They made the process stress free. I would recommend this firm to anyone seeking assistance with 9/11 related illnesses." - JE Kirwan, worked in the exposure zone

  • "The people at this firm were just great. They were concern with making sure I was taken care of in every way possible. When I was given an award Mr. Barasch didn't think it was a fair amount and appealed the decision which got me a larger award. I am very satisfied with everything they did for me in the past and are willing to do for me and my family in the future." - Bob Wiecezak, FDNY-Retired

  • "Excellent law firm. Lee London and his staff were very responsive and always followed up with phone calls or emails. This firm is a strong example of what caring and personable lawyers are all about." - Letitia Egan, wife of client, volunteer in the exposure zone

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    • Deadline Extended to Register for Compensation


      There is still time to apply for significant compensation if you have been diagnosed with any of the 68 cancers that doctors at the WTC Health Program (WTCHP) have linked to the WTC toxic dust. The deadline to apply to the Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) is two years from the date that a cancer has been certified by the WTC Health Program — or any other governmental agency. The two-year period to register doesn’t start on the day of a cancer diagnosis. Rather, it starts only when a cancer survivor is made aware their cancer was linked to exposure to the WTC toxins.

      For those who died from their WTC-linked cancers, the two-year period for their family to register starts on the day of the death of the WTC victim.

      Register For Compensation

    Please help spread the word about the strict two-year deadline to register a claim

    Many people have tried to complete the VCF application on their own, only to learn that it requires answers to hundreds of questions and many documents to download. It would be our pleasure to help you complete the process in order to ensure that you receive the compensation that you are entitled to. Please call us for a free consultation.

    Let a knowledgeable attorney help you figure it out

    A cancer diagnosis can be terrifying. You undoubtedly have questions about your disease and how you will pay for treatment. Lawyers at Barasch & McGarry ensure you understand the complex requirements and help devise the best strategies for obtaining compensation and appropriate medical care under the Zadroga Act. Contact our law firm online or call 888-351-9421. The initial consultation is free, so it costs you nothing to find out whether a lawyer can help.
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