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N.Y. court reverses denial of 9/11-related claim

New York

A New York appellate court on Thursday reversed the denial of a workers compensation claim filed by a former New York City court officer who alleged he became sick or injured due to his cleanup efforts at the World Trade Center after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

The Appellate Division of the state Supreme Court said the Workers’ Compensation Board wrongly upheld a compensation law judge’s denial of comp benefits to Robert Liotta, who was working near the World Trade Center at the time of the attacks, and subsequently assisted in cleanup and recovery efforts.

The workers comp judge denied the claim, finding that Mr. Liotta didn’t participate in the “rescue, recovery and/or cleanup operations” at the site. The workers comp board later declined to review the decision.

The exact nature of Mr. Liotta’s injuries or illness was not specified in the appeals court ruling. 

Mr. Liotta argued that he was entitled to benefits because he assisted in evacuating the courthouse where he worked and the building across the street and that he later helped to clear the area and assist emergency responders.

The appeals court ruled the claim denial was improper because Mr. Liotta’s efforts to help clear the area, which was located within the “statutorily defined WTC site,” had a “tangible connection to the rescue efforts.”

The court remitted the case to the workers comp board for further proceedings.