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Suit by Firefighters' Families
Cites 9/11 Radio Failures
December 23, 2003
By SABRINA TAVERNISE
The New York Times
The families of 12 firefighters who died in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks filed a lawsuit yesterday against New York City, claiming that the firefighters died unnecessarily because the city had issued them radios that did not work in high-rise buildings.
The families have already filed with the federal Victim Compensation Fund, which required that they waive their right to most civil actions. However, their lawyers say that the language of the law that established the fund allows an exception for suing to recover money from insurance companies and similar sources. The suit was filed in the United States district court for the Southern District of New York.
"These families are saying, `O.K., we have applied to the fund, but we want answers, we want accountability, we want responsibility," said Richard J. Salem, a lawyer representing the families. "The city broke the law in providing equipment that they knew or should have known was inadequate to perform in high-rise buildings.
"The families contend that a radio call to evacuate the trade center's north tower at 10 a.m. went unheard by many firefighters
A Fire Department spokesman, Paul Iannizzotto, declined to comment on the suit. A spokeswoman for the city law department, Kathleen O'Brien Ahlers, did not respond to messages last night.
A 2002 report by McKinsey & Company, a management consulting firm, established that there were communication failures on Sept. 11.
A mother of a victim in the suit, Sally Regenhard, said: "There has never been any responsibility for the numerous failures on Sept. 11."
"She added, "Everyone else seemed to be able to get out. The police, the Port Authority. Why was there such an overwhelming death of firefighters?"
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