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Remembering 911: The ” Jersey Girls” Who Changed My Life and the Lives of Many Others

By Chris Placitella

Like so many people in our area, the tragic events of 911 changed me forever.  I spent many days and nights with the Jersey Girls in connection with representing their families in the 911 Victim’s Compensation Fund. These are extraordinary people and American heroins. We met at their homes, mostly. They arranged for me to meet other families at similar gatherings. They quickly learned the regulatory process and made their presence known to countless Senators and Congressional delegates. They were truly a force to be reckoned with. With their help, we were able to shape the regulations and get the word out to numerous deserving families. The families wanted answers. They wanted to know why this happened, if there was any forewarning, and what could be done in the future to prevent another such incident. They pressed for a commission to investigate. They were relentless in their pursuit.They had the cell phone numbers of many members of Congress and did not hesitate to keep on the pressure. Ultimately, the 9/11 Commission was appointed and chaired by former Governor Tom Kean. The efforts of the Jersey Girls were a big reason for the Commission and the final report which bolstered our security. Ultimately, I personally represented all but one of the Jersey Girls before Kenneth Feinberg, who was in charge of administering the 9-11 Compensation Fund. In order to prepare for the hearings,I learned everything there was to know about their families. My mission had become to make sure that I secured enough compensation so that the children in these families would be able to have the things their deceased fathers and mothers dreamed they should havekeep their homes, afford college, etc. As part of the process, made a movie to present about each family, their love, their loss, etc. It was my job to make sure Mr. Feinberg understood these issues. We were not talking about numbers or statistics. We were talking about people. Statistics, after all, are people with the tears wiped away.At the same time, other lawyers from all over the country were doing the same thing. When the process was over, the lawyers from Trial Lawyers Care had secured billions of dollars in compensation and never took a single penny of compensation. It was the greatest project I ever participated in as a lawyer, I learned so much from these women. I learned about life, love, perseverance, and the power of resolve to make a difference in the world.Most of the families have moved on with their lives, Many have moved. Some stay in touch. This was a very painful time and many have chosen to close as many of those doors as possible in order to protect themselves from the horrors of that day. For me, I will never be the same. I am so proud of all the lawyers who helped us. When I hear lawyer jokes, I think of the lawyer from South Dakota who left his practice and moved to New York for two years to do nothing but help his fellow Americans and the hundreds of others who made similar sacrifices,


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