Mt. Sinai to Stay Neutral in WTC Dust Litigation

     MANHATTAN (CN) – Doctors need not testify, but Mt. Sinai Hospital’s WTC Health Program must disclose its “unparalleled” repository of research data for an upcoming trial on the chronic respiratory ailments of Sept. 11 cleanup workers, a federal judge ruled.
     In 2009, Marek Socha, a Polish-American asbestos cleanup worker from the Local 78, and four other men in his union, joined the mass-tort litigation that sprang up for people disabled because of dust inhalation following the terrorist attacks.
     Socha will be the first in his group to go to trial on March 2, 2015.
     Trials for Socha’s union brothers, Jerzy Muszkatel, Tadeusz Kowalewski, Wladyslaw Kwasnik and Waldemar Ropel, are expected to resume individually, on a rolling basis, every month thereafter, their lawyer Gregory Cannata explained in a phone interview.
     New York-based Cannata added that Mt. Sinai diagnosed Socha with a host of 9/11-linked respiratory ailments, and he had hoped to get doctors from the hospital to testify at trial.
     Mt. Sinai refused to participate in the proceedings for fear of drawing staff away from treating their patients and also compromising its institutional neutrality in the World Trade Center litigation.
     U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein deferred to Mt. Sinai on this issue Thursday, but ordered the hospital to provide a pool of research data that he called “unparalleled in its scope.”
     “This litigation can only benefit from a full record and the inclusion of the relevant data underlying the research conducted by the Mt. Sinai WTC Health Program is appropriate,” the opinion states.
     Nevertheless, Cannata said in an interview: “The data is not going to be that helpful to us.”
     “What we really wanted was the doctors’ testimony,” he added.
     Cannata noted that his team has “a number of experts” ready to sift through the new data, including pulmonologists and toxicologists.
     Mt. Sinai declined to comment.

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