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Mayor’s Slur of Dead Hero Cop "Shameful"


New York, New York, October 30, 2007: Attorneys representing over ten thousand heroes injured while working at the site of the World Trade Center following the September 11, 2001 attacks angrily responded to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s “shameful” slur of dead hero cop James Zadroga on Tuesday.

“As attorneys representing more than ten thousand heroes who selflessly volunteered to work on the burning 16 acre pile of debris following the September 11 attack, we feel it is incumbent on us to respond to Mayor Bloomberg’s outrageous and baseless slur of Detective James Zadroga, who gave his life in the service of this City and this Country in our most desperate hour of need,” said attorney Marc Jay Bern of Worby Groner & Napoli Bern, LLP. The firm does not represent the Zadroga family, but Bern said that his clients have been calling to express their outrage for the offensive statements by the Mayor, following a highly questionable and obviously biased finding by the New York City Medical Examiner disputing that Ground Zero exposure had caused Zadroga’ death at 34. Bloomberg was quoted today as saying that Zadroga “was no hero.”

“The Mayor of the greatest city in the world just accepted an award from the Harvard School of Public Health for his initiatives to improve the health and safety of New York City residents” said Bern, “given that, it is inconceivable that he would fail to provide these heroes adequate health care and compensate them so that they can support their families when their health has been so adversely effected that hundreds of these men and women can no longer work. As if that were not bad enough, the Mayor has now gone out of his way to slander the memory of the brave men and women who selflessly volunteered when our nation and our city called upon them, and who fell ill because the City and its contractors failed to provide them adequate protective gear to allow them to safely perform the dangerous work at Ground Zero.”

Detective James Zadroga, a young widower and single father, worked 450 hours at Ground Zero – he began coughing only two weeks into his time on the pile, and died an excruciating suffocating death in January 2006. Upon an autopsy performed by Ocean County, N.J., Medical Examiner Gerard Breton, Breton concluded the cop’s respiratory problems were caused by his exposure to toxins from the attack site. The physicians who cared for Zadroga at several hospitals also concluded his illness was caused by toxic fumes at Ground Zero. The New York City pension board and the U.S. Social Security Administration agreed and declared Zadroga disabled when he retired. Nonetheless, New York City Medical Examiner Dr. Charles Hirsch -- who has steadfastly refused to acknowledge what every other medical professional treating or reviewing the records of these workers already knows -- released an indefensible statement attributing Zadroga’s death to intravenous drug use.

As reported in response to the Medical Examiner’s findings, Dr. Michael Baden, the New York State Police chief forensic pathologist, and a frequent expert witness in criminal cases, previously reviewed the Zadroga case. Baden agreed with the New Jersey medical examiner’s finding that Zadroga’s lung damage was caused by inhaling Ground Zero poisons. Baden, who is not being paid by the Zadroga family for his review or stated opinions, said that Zadroga “suffered inflammation of the lungs due to inhaling particulate matter while at the World Trade Center.“ According to Baden, Zadroga had a type of ”black lung" disease typically seen in coal miners and caused by inhaling particulate matter. Baden said that slides of Zadroga’s lung tissue revealed the presence of large glass fibers and other materials that would have come from toxic dust. He said the material was found primarily in the airways of the lungs, indicating that the particles were inhaled.

The New York Medical Examiner based his opinion on a finding of talc and cellulose in Zadroga’s lung tissue, saying that these substances are binders used in pills, and would have been carried into the lungs after ground up pills were injected. In so doing, the Medical Examiner glaringly overlooked the fact that Zadroga’s lungs were filled with carbon, silica, calcium phosphate and talc and cellulose – all found in the concrete dust that hung in the air over Ground Zero in our city’s darkest days. According to Baden, if Zadroga had been grinding down pills and injecting them, his autopsy report would have noted scars and needle tracks on his arms – but no such finding was made. Talc and cellulose, he said, could easily have come from the pulverized concrete and other debris found in ground zero dust.

Bern concluded, “the Mayor has been double-talking on these issues for a long time; on the one hand he calls the men and women suffering from these horrific exposure related illnesses ‘heroes,’ but he nonetheless takes every possible opportunity to dishonor their memory as if doing so will justify the City’s continuing refusal to take care of its own. The Mayor’s ill-advised attack on this dead hero will not deflect our attention from the fact that it was the City who allowed these workers to suffer exposure injuries, that it was the City that failed to provide adequate protection, and that it is the City, holding the purse strings to more than a billion dollars earmarked by Congress to take care of these men and women, continues to spend the money, instead, on fighting their claims.”


 Ground Zero
 World Trade Center
 Michael Bloomberg
 September 11, 2001

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