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Background Attack Aftermath Evidence Misinformation Analysis Memorial

Lawsuits by Victims of Ground Zero Exposures

EPA and WTC Owners Defendants in Class Action Lawsuits

By three years after the attack there were already at least two class-action lawsuits on behalf of individuals exposed to Ground Zero toxins.


Environmental Protection Agency Defendent in Class Action Lawsuit

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a series of press releases in the weeks following the 9/11 attack on New York City assuring residents that the air was safe to breathe.

On March 10, 2004, the law firm of Berger & Montague filed a lawsuit against defendants Christine Todd Whitman (former administrator of EPA), Marianne L. Horinko (former assistant administrator and then administrator of EPA), Michael Leavitt (administrator of EPA since November 2003), and the United States Environmental Protection Agency on behalf of "residents, students, and office workers in Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn who have been exposed to hazardous substances in the interior of their residences, schools, and work places as a result of the collapse of the World Trade Centers on September 11, 2001." The complaint named plaintiffs Gail Benzman, Diane Lapson, Jim and Anamae Gilroy, JoAlison Polett, Robert Gulack, Janice Fried, John Calder, Jenna Orkin, Kelly Colangelo, George Dinos, and Brian Edwards, and "other persons similarly situated." 1   The lawsuit asked the court to establish and fund a program for medical monitoring for conditions resulting from toxic exposures. 2  

On February 3, 2006, US District Court Judge Deborah A. Batts ruled that the lawsuit can proceed with respect to its allegations that Whitman violated the plaintiffs' Fifth Amendment Constitutional right to be free from bodily harm by making "materially misleading statements regarding the safety of the air quality in Lower Manhattan after September 11, 2001." 3  

On April 20th, 2007, a three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that then-EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman and other agency officials could not be held constitutionally liable for saying that the air was safe to breathe following the World Trade Center's destruction. The panel of three judges "reasoned that the government's interest in returning New York to normalcy following the attacks should protect it from lawsuits alleging that the government made false statements about air quality". The court did not examine any facts regarding the quality of the air nor attempt to determine if the EPA intentionally misled the public. 4  


WTC Owners Defendants in Lawsuit on Behalf of Ground Zero Workers

A second lawsuit, filed by different plaintiffs against a different defendant, cited similar harms as those cited by the lawsuit against the EPA. On September 10, 2004, Worby, Groner, Edelman, & Napoli, Bern, LLP announced a class action lawsuit against owners, managers, controllers and lessors of the World Trade Center on behalf of Ground Zero cleanup workers and others. Attorney for the suit David E Worby said that this suit could include hundreds of thousands of individuals. 5   The lawsuit included more than 800 plaintiffs at the time of its filing, September 10, 2004. 6  

William R. Sawyer, a leading national expert on the toxicity of the World Trade Center site, stated:

Certified analyses of the particulate matter removed from this gear revealed high levels of several different carcinogens which were far beyond the EPA-recommended levels. The variety and seriousness of the likely resultant illnesses are as unique and unprecedented as the combination of deadly poisons to which these workers were exposed.

On October 17, 2006, federal judge Alvin Hellerstein dismissed claims against Consolidated Edison Co. and Silverstein Properties, but allowed claims to stand aginst the city, its contractors and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. 7  


1. Jury Trial Demand, 911ea.org,
2. EPA Hit With Ground Zero Lawsuit, CBSNews.com, 3/11/04 [cached]
3. Environmental Protection Agency, [cached]
4. Court Backs EPA Chief in 9/11 Toxins Case, nysun.com, 4/20/07
5. Ground Zero Workers File Billion-Dollar Health Lawsuit, HealthDaily, [cached]
6. First Major Class Action Lawsuit Filed For Ground Zero Cleanup Workers Afflicted With 'WTC Toxic Diseases', wgenblaw.com, 8/13/04 [cached]
7. Judge Allows 9/11 Lawsuits to Go Forward, myway.com, 10/17/06 [cached]

page last modified: 2013-03-21