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Empathy in Action: 9/11 Trial Lawyers Care Program

In the aftermath of the devastating September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, countless individuals and organizations stepped forward to offer support, aid, and solace to those affected.  Shortly after Congress passed legislation to establish the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, the Association of Trial Lawyers of America (ATLA, now American Association for Justice ) wrote a letter to Congress pledging to provide free legal services to any family seeking justice through the fund. This promise set the stage for the remarkable Trial Lawyers Care Program that would unfold over the next three years.

Tom’s Involvement in the 9/11 Trial Lawyers Care Program

As a member of the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association and ATLA, Thomas Curcio (Tom) was inspired by the opportunity to provide pro bono legal representation to the families affected by the 9/11 attacks. Recognizing the significance of this humanitarian endeavor, he wholeheartedly embraced the cause and joined the ranks of over 1,100 lawyers nationwide who volunteered their services.

Helping Families Navigate the Compensation Fund

To ensure transparency and avoid any conflicts of interest, the Trial Lawyers Care Program required participating lawyers, including Tom, to inform the families about their options. Families were given the choice between pursuing a claim through the compensation fund or filing a liability claim against the airlines. To discourage lawyers from volunteering for the program as a way to be retained on a liability claim and earn a fee, if a family opted to pursue a liability claim, lawyers in the program could not represent them. Tom meticulously guided the families he represented through this decision-making process, providing them with the necessary information to make an informed choice, all five families opting to participate in the Fund.

In the initial meetings with the five families Tom represented, he witnessed firsthand the clear benefits of pursuing claims through the compensation fund. Understanding the emotional toll and the desire for closure, the families saw that opting for the fund allowed them to bypass the arduous task of proving liability, ensuring a resolution within months rather than years, and eliminating additional attorney’s fees.

Throughout his 40-year career, Tom holds his involvement in the 9/11 Trial Lawyers Care Program as one of his proudest achievements. The 9/11 Trial Lawyers Care Program showcases the power of legal professionals coming together to support those in need. He not only helped the families affected by the 9/11 attacks navigate the compensation process but also provided them with a sense of closure and support during an immensely challenging time. Tom’s contributions to the program will forever be remembered as a shining example of empathy, integrity, and dedication to justice.


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