The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

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SJU Alumni Found 9/11 Compensation Firm

Brothers Chris and Matt Baione Push For ‘Never Forget the Heroes Act’
SJU+Alumni+Found+9%2F11+Compensation+Firm
PHOTO COURTESY/MATT BAIONE

The terror attack that consumed New York City on Sept. 11, 2001 still lingers within the lives of New Yorkers throughout the five boroughs, and two St. John’s alumni have made it their mission to bring justice to those still suffering.

Chris Baione (‘09) and Matt Baione (‘11) are both graduates of the St. John’s Staten Island campus who later went on to study law at Seton Hall and Benjamin N. Cardozo, respectively. The brothers applied their law degrees to become the founding partners of the 9/11 compensation firm, Pitta & Baione LLP, whose focus is to obtain health and compensation benefits for victims of 9/11 toxins exposure. Their firm came to fruition in 2016, and just celebrated its three year anniversary.

The Baiones didn’t think this was where their career would take them, but after working at another compensation firm together they agreed that they could do a better job of helping people because of how close they were to the cause. Their firm has represented 1,200 people, and counting.

The Baione brothers credited their Staten Island roots for their passion to help the people and families that were affected by 9/11.

“Being that we are from Staten Island and have friends and family who were directly affected by the attacks and therefore have a better understanding as to what went on and what people are going through,” Chris said. “I was personally affected by this just being a New Yorker and watching the smoke over the landfill from where we used to live.”

Many times the job gets personal, as well as emotional, due to working so closely with people living with cancer and other diseases caused by toxins in the air from 9/11.

“These are 55 to 60 year old people who should [be] about to enjoy retirement and instead they’re in the hospital in chemo or they’re in really bad respiratory health,” Chris said.

He added that he has had to buy many boxes of sympathy cards because their clients are dying on a weekly basis.

“Sometimes we’re the last people that they ever speak to because they’re so worried about what’s gonna happen to their families,” Chris said. “It’s our jobs to assure them that we’re still going to have their backs and even if they’re not around, we’ll do our best to take care of their families in their absence.”

Matt said that although nothing can undo victims’ health problems, providing compensation for the wrongdoings of the government, like when former Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Christine Todd Whitman said the air was safe to breathe in 2001, causing victims to not evacuate the city, gives them some justice.

Despite the difficulties faced, Matt and Chris agreed that their job is more fulfilling than they ever thought it could be.

“It’s fulfilling in the sense that we’re bringing justice to people who really deserve it and although nothing could give them back what they lost we are responsible for kind of giving them peace of mind,” Matt said.

The words “never forget” are always at the forefront of 9/11 remembrance, but there is currently a crisis for victim compensation. The Baiones are advocating for the renewal of the “Never Forget the Heroes Act,” a federal compensation fund to support victims. The fund is running out of money and cutting claims by 50-70 percent.

“This act would basically undo these problems and extend the fund indefinitely, match the funding and roll back the cuts,” Matt said on the fund, which is expected to close by December 2020 if changes are not made.

“The entirety of America has to come together on this,” Chris added.

More information for the “Never Forget the Heroes Act” and Pitta & Baione LLP can be found at www.911benefits.com.

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About the Contributor
Isabella Bruni, Managing Editor
Isabella Bruni is a senior journalism major with a minor in Italian and International Studies. Isabella hopes to maintain the Torch’s vast news coverage and increase its online presence all while focusing on managing the business side of the newspaper and building relationships with advertisers. She has been part of the Torch since her freshman year starting as a copy editor, becoming chief copy editor her sophomore year and then news editor her junior year. Have any questions? Email Isabella at [email protected] or [email protected] 
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  • J

    Jerry DuApr 1, 2019 at 5:57 pm

    To whom it may concern :
    As I know , Chris and Matthew is the first lawyer to hold the news conference in our community to make announcement about this update issue , and they went to
    Capital Hills to promote Never forget the heroes Act in person , which is the Top 1 law firm to do so , to see to believe , people do not know how much you know but they know how much you care !
    Thank u very much PITTA & Baione LLP you did for us ,
    We never forget your efforts for our country from the button of our heart . Really appreciate it .

    Reply
  • W

    william levyMar 29, 2019 at 3:11 pm

    Hi
    I am a first responder to the WTC on sept 11 ,2001 . I became ill about a year after and retired in 2007 on disability from my illnesses from working at WTC.
    I applied from the 9/11 compensation fund and the law firm i used jerked my around for a year and a half. Then they hired Chris Baione who took over my case and I was finally treated with respect and answers to my questions!!
    Chris Baione actually cares about the people he is representing and tells you the truth and treats you with compassion and respect.
    I have referred friends to his law firm and they all say the same thing there are still GREAT PEOPLE and he is one of them THANK YOU for all your hard work for all the sick 9/11 first responders!!!!!!

    FIRST RESPONDER WILLIAM LEVY

    Reply