Law firm’s fake 9/11 advert is pulled after angry firefighter says: ‘I WASN’T there’
(DAILY MAIL) Staring into the camera under the slogan ‘I was there’, the soot-covered firefighter is supposed to be the traumatised client of a controversial law firm specializing in litigation for 9/11 workers.
Except Robert Keiley wasn’t at Ground Zero – and he didn’t even join the New York Fire Department until 2004.
The firefighter and part-time actor is furious after compensation lawyers Worby Groner Edelman & Napoli Bern used his image to promote their services in the advert.
The Brooklyn firefighter described the fake advert as an ‘insult’ to the families who lost loved ones in the World Trade Center.
He told the New York Post: ‘It makes me look like I’m cashing in on 9/11, saying I was there even though I was never there, and that I’m sick and possibly suing, trying to get a chunk of money.’
His anger today prompted the agency behind the adverts to stop running the controversial posters.
John Barker, president of Barker/DZP, told the Post: ‘We issue a sincere and deep apology to Firefighter Keiley and this ad will not run again.’
Mr Keiley, 34, posed for the image last year as part of a promotional photo shoot, clutching a firefighter’s helmet – not the framed picture of the wrecked World Trade Center the advertising agency pasted into his hands.
The $350 photograph reappeared – after its Photoshop treatment – on a flier for Worby Groner at the World Police Fire Games Event Gala, a fundraiser for the annual sports event.
The slogan reads ‘I was there -and now Worby Groner Edelman & Napoli Bern is there for me’.
In small letters at the bottom the advert says: ‘This is an actor portrayal of a potential Zadroga claimant’, referring to the ill 9/11 workers who could receive compensation under the James Zadroga act.
The firm, which filed most of the 10,000 suits for Ground Zero workers who are suing the city over health issues, has appeared in federal court amid accusations they overcharged their clients.
Last August a judge ordered the company to justify some of the $6.1million they charged in expenses – which included interest payments on a loan they took out to help finance the litigation.
It had to reduce its fees from an initial deal which would have seen it take home 25 per cent of the multi-million dollar settlement.
Mr Keiley said one of the most painful things about the advert was explaining himself to his best friend, whose brother died at the World Trade Center.
He told the Post: ‘I had friends who died on 9/11. How can I look their families in the eye if they see this picture, thinking I’m trying to make money on their [loved ones’] deaths? They’d probably think I’m a scumbag.’
On his acting website, Mr Keiley describes himself as a ‘born and raised NYC native’, who has previously worked for the NYPD and as a U.S. marine.
He joined the fire service in 2004 and works from a station in Flatbush, Brooklyn.
Mr Keiley works part-time as an actor and has starred in several commercials and a Bon Jovi music video. He won an award last year as the top earner for his agency, NY Castings.
The firefighter said he is now considering suing. His lawyer, Keith Sullivan, told the New York Post: ‘It creates the image that he’s claiming to have been at a tragic event when he was not.’
‘More offensive is [the claim] that he’s trying to collect money from this fund, which he absolutely has no intention of doing.’