As the New York Law Journal announced on its front page, “referee appointed by Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Eileen Bransten ruled in favor of …Paul Napoli in a dispute over the 9/11 museum donation.”
The history behind the donation that the former personal injury firm committed to the National September 11 Memorial and Museum began in 2011. That year Paul Napoli signed a $1.2 million pledge to Sept. 11 museum and memorial, with his former partner authorizing another individual to sign on his behalf. In recognition of this support, the 9/11 museum agreed to the attorney’s names and firm name on a ‘founders wall’ located its entrance.
In 2014, the firm committed to an additional $3.8 million donation. Mr. Napoli again signed this pledge agreement on the firm’s behalf. It was agreed that the amount would be paid in installments over a number of years.
Paul Napoli and his firm are well known for having represented World Trade Center first responders and clean up workers who continue to suffer from health conditions caused by the aftermath of 9/11. The Napoli firm was able to secure more than $1 billion in settlements for the injuries suffered by these heroes, including a settlement for improper protective gear at Ground Zero during the clean up.
In response to the donation dispute, Paul said, “It is reprehensible that Bern tried to renege on his promise to the 9/11 heroes and the 9/11 memorial.”
Napoli’s attorney adds that the referee reached the right conclusion and that “Napoli was telling the truth” regarding the commitments that were made to the 9/11 memorial.
Mark Zauderer, the referee who oversees the former firm’s dissolution, states that Bern consented to the $5 million donation to the September 11 Memorial and that it would be unfair to burden one party only when the donation provides “perpetual recognition to both parties at one of the nation’s most solemn memorial sites.”