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In re World Trade Center Lower Manhattan Disaster Site Litigation

United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit

June 6, 2018

In re: World Trade Center Lower Manhattan Disaster Site Litigation
v.
Battery Park City Authority, et al., Defendants-Appellees. Stanislaw Faltynowicz, Lucyna Foremska, Ruben Acosta, Vladmir Akoulov, Waldemar Balcer, Joaquin Campuzano, Henryk Ciborowski, Jan Dobrowolski, Marek Glowaty, Eugeniusz Jastrzebowski, Zbigniew Kucharski, Maria Moreno, Irena Perzynaska, Marian Retelski, Dariusz Wszolkowski, Boguslaw Zalewski, Plaintiffs-Appellants, State of New York, Intervenor-Appellant, Santiago Alvear, Plaintiff-Appellant, State of New York, Intervenor-Appellant,
v.
Battery Park City Authority, Defendant-Appellee. Peter Curley, Mary Ann Curley, Plaintiffs-Appellants, State of New York, Intervenor-Appellant,
v.
Battery Park City Authority, Defendant-Appellee.

          Argued: October 5, 2016

          Questions Certified: January 19, 2017

          Certified Questions Answered: November 21, 2017

          Supplemental Briefing Concluded: April 25, 2018

         Plaintiffs brought tort and labor law claims against defendant-appellee Battery Park City Authority after their participation in post-9/11 cleanup efforts at sites defendant owns allegedly caused them to develop respiratory illnesses. The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (Alvin K. Hellerstein, J.) granted summary judgment against plaintiffs on the ground that the New York law that had revived their otherwise time-barred claims was unconstitutional. Plaintiffs argue that New York's capacity-to-sue rule bars a public corporation like defendant from raising a constitutional challenge to state legislation, and that defendant's challenge fails on the merits. After certifying two questions to the New York Court of Appeals and receiving answers to those questions, we VACATE and REMAND.

          Gregory J. Cannata, Gregory J. Cannata & Associates, LLP, New York, NY, for Plaintiffs-Appellants Stanislaw Faltynowicz, Lucyna Foremska, Ruben Acosta, Vladmir Akoulov, Waldemar Balcer, Joaquin Campuzano, Henryk Ciborowski, Jan Dobrowolski, Marek Glowaty, Eugeniusz Jastrzebowski, Zbigniew Kucharski, Maria Moreno, Irena Perzynaska, Marian Retelski, Dariusz Wszolkowski, Boguslaw Zalewski.

          Paul J. Napoli, Napoli Shkolnik PLLC, New York, NY, for Plaintiffs-Appellants Santiago Alvear, Peter Curley, Mary Ann Curley.

          Steven C. Wu, Deputy Solicitor General, Eric Del Pozo, Assistant Solicitor General, Andrew W. Amend, Senior Assistant Solicitor General, for Barbara D. Underwood, Acting Attorney General for the State of New York, New York, NY, for Intervenor-Appellant State of New York.

          Daniel S. Connolly, Bracewell LLP, New York, NY, for Defendant-Appellee Battery Park City Authority.

          Before: Lynch and Droney, Circuit Judges, and Reiss, District Judge. [*]

          PER CURIAM:

         This action involves the tort and labor law claims of workers whose participation in post-9/11 cleanup efforts allegedly caused them to develop respiratory illnesses. The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (Alvin K. Hellerstein, J.) granted summary judgment against the workers, holding that the law that had revived their otherwise time-barred claims was unconstitutional under the New York State Constitution. We previously certified to the New York Court of Appeals ("NYCOA") two questions implicated by this consolidated appeal. The NYCOA having answered, we now VACATE and REMAND.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiffs are eighteen workers who claim to have developed respiratory illnesses as a result of their participation in the cleanup efforts following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. They sued defendant Battery Park City Authority ("BPCA"), a public corporation created by the New York Legislature, see N.Y. Pub. Auth. Law ยง 1971, which owns several of the sites where ...


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