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Law Firm’s Ground Zero Ad Was Proper, Attorneys Say


New York, New York March 28, 2011. For immediate release: The law firm representing more than ten thousand injured World Trade Center workers responded today to allegations by the New York Post that a print advertisement directed toward potential claimants under the Zadroga Health and Compensation Act was improper or misleading. The ad, which includes a photo of a model dressed as a firefighter and the headline “I Was There” referring to 9/11, was created in connection with a generous charitable donation for insertion in a commemorative booklet produced for a Police and Firefighters Gala that took place on March 23, 2011. The law firm regrets that the ad might have caused any confusion for those who read it, notwithstanding the disclaimer at the bottom of the ad stating clearly that the image portrayed a model posing as a potential Zadroga claimant.

“This firm has worked for over seven long years to represent our brave first responders against the City of New York and its contractors and other defendants for injuries they suffered while working at the World Trade Center site following 9/11,” said Senior Partner Marc Jay Bern, “we did this at great risk to the firm and its principals when few, if any other firms would take on these claims, because we knew it was the right thing to do.” Bern continued: “we are still engaged in this long battle for the rights of the first responders and want to be sure that those men and women who did not have the opportunity to make a claim in the first Victim’s Compensation Fund or the federal litigation will have an opportunity to file their claims under Zadroga. We believe we are best positioned to help them given our experience in these matters.” According to Bern, that was the only intent behind the ad, i.e., to be sure that potential Zadroga claimants knew they could contact the firm for representation on their Zadroga claims.

Asked about the Post’s allegations, Bern responded: “we hired a top-flight advertising agency and that agency legally obtained the photograph through an agency holding the proper documentation and his signed release for use of the image.” The release signed states, in relevant part: “I hereby give … my permission to license the images and to use the Images in any Media for any purpose (except pornographic or defamatory), which may include, among others, advertising, promotion, marketing and packaging for any product or service. I agree that the images may be combined with other images, text and graphics, and cropped, altered or modified. … I acknowledge and agree that I have no further right to additional Consideration or Accounting and that I will make no further claim for any reason to Photographer/Filmmaker and/or Assigns.”

The release plainly noted that the image might be altered when used, notwithstanding the Post’s claim that doing so was somehow improper. Bern said: “the law firm and the ad agency followed all appropriate ethical rules for attorney advertising and could not possibly have known that the model in the photo, duly identified as such, was also a firefighter. To the extent that this ad caused him, or any other firefighter, to be upset, we certainly regret that, but it is important to understand that we can not be faulted for any aspect of this advertisement.” Bern confirmed a statement released by the ad agency that the agency took full responsibility for the ad and its production and that the agency has resigned the account “out of respect for all parties involved.” Notwithstanding the Post’s attack on his firm, Bern confirmed that the firm would continue to advertise to be sure that injured World Trade Center responders knew their rights and that there is representation available for them.

Bern also noted that notwithstanding its article attacking the ad and the law firm, the New York Post accepted his firm’s advertising dollars to run the ad in many of their print editions.


 New York Post
 Marc Bern

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