The mighty power of judges – the ability to reverse their decisions

The mighty power of judges – the ability to reverse their decisions


New York City, New York ( – The aftermath of the attacks of September 11, 2001 brought many changes to the face of our nation. As a form of compensation, Congress created a fund of more than $7 billion dollars and allocated it to more than 5,000 families who suffered losses. Surprisingly, there were a little less than 100 families who sued over the deaths or injuries.

United States District Judge, Alvin Hellerstein reversed his decision on July 24, 2008 whereon he had approved four settlements ranging from about $5.5 to $8 million. Judge Hellerstein believed the amounts to be too excessive and considered unfair compared to what others received. Lawyers for these families are proposing that Judge Hellerstein reconsider his reversal of the $28.5 million in settlements. It was also discovered that some of the lawyers were requesting a 25% fee, much higher than that of the 15% various lawyers requested in other cases with these families.

There have been more than 10,000 lawsuits making their way through the justice system in the wake of the attacks. It is understandable that there will be inadequacy and slow processes in the wake of a tragedy such as 9/11, but what is unknown to many is why Judge Hellerstein did not stand by his original ruling. It can be argued that he did not have knowledge of the high fees, yet if he thought they were appropriate at one time, but not at another, where does the consistency lie? Until a reversal is made, the final decision of Judge Hellerstein stands, but the lawyers and families will continue to fight for the original amounts.

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