James A. Henderson Jr. appointed 'special master' in 9/11 respiratory illness cases

New York City is facing a number of lawsuits regarding lingering respiratory illnesses that many workers and rescue personnel claim result from working on the World Trade Center site after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. Studies by such organizations as Mount Sinai Medical Center and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have agreed that the hazardous conditions at the site can be the source of these illnesses.

To investigate the legal cases, Cornell Law School professor James A. Henderson Jr. has been appointed by Southern District Judge Alvin Hellerstein as a special master, along with Aaron D. Twerski, dean of the Hofstra University School of Law.

"Professor Henderson is an obvious choice for special master insofar as he is one of the leading thinkers in tort law," says Michael Heise, professor of law at the Cornell Law School. "His first-rate scholarship draws on a deep reservoir of knowledge, experience, judgment and creative thinking, all of which will assist the judge in the difficult task before him."

Henderson and Twerski have been asked to make an undisputed list of the cases and to categorize them to help organize the legal process. In appointing the two legal experts, Hellerstein mentioned in particular their impartiality and unparalleled skills.

Experts in the field of mass tort litigation, they have written texts and law review articles together, including "Cases and Materials on the Law of Torts" in 2003.

Henderson has an A.B. from Princeton University and an LL.B. and LL.M. from Harvard Law School. He clerked for the Hon. Warren L. Jones of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and then taught at Boston University Law School for 20 years before, in 1984, joining Cornell Law School, where he is the Frank B. Ingersoll Professor of Law. His scholarship and teaching addresses theoretical, practical and process concerns in the fields of products liability and torts. In addition to serving as the co-reporter of the American Law Institute's revision of the products liability portions of the "Restatement of the Law of Torts from 1992-1998," Henderson has testified extensively on torts, products liability and insurance before the U.S. Senate and House, as well as before numerous state legislatures.

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