NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Lawyers for victims of Superstorm Sandy were in Brooklyn Federal Court on Monday.
As CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff explained, attorneys are hoping to spare some people from having to pay back money.
The Corbetts’ Island Park home stands unfinished. A grant from NY Rising covered a fraction of the cost, and their insurance payout also fell short.
“We have put so much of our own money, borrowed against his pension,” Cathy Corbett said.
They sued their insurance company and now await a settlement check.
“We are not extravagant. We are not looking for more than we deserve,” Corbett said.
But, there is a catch. A win would trigger a federal law requiring storm victims pay back initial government grants.
“You can’t get paid twice for the same repair. So, if the insurance company gives additional dollars for the same scope of work that we’re paying for, that money needs to be returned to the state,” explained Jon Kaiman of New York Rising, a special adviser to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Hundreds of storm victims may have to pay back, not only parts of NY Rising grants, but hefty lawyer fees too.
“It’s like waiting for the other shoe to drop,” Bill Corbett said.
Kevin Reilly founded a group made up of hundreds of storm victims. He said they should have known the rules, but many don’t.
“They are desperate. They are grasping for straws, and all they want is to go home,” he said.
Attorneys for victims and insurance companies agreed to a compromise. Not all grants would have to be repaid in full, and some insurance companies agreed to pay legal fees.
The Corbetts are still in a rental apartment with four children, and do not know where they stand.
“The lawyers should get paid, but we shouldn’t be penalized by New York Rising, because we had t pay lawyers,” Bill said.
They don’t want a win against insurance to end up as yet another loss.
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said the idea that families still trying to rebuild, have to repay money is wrong. He said he is working with the federal government to ensure that it doesn’t happen.