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9/11 hero widow sues FDNY

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The widow of a retired Little Neck firefighter who died Sept. 11, 2001, at the World Trade Center is suing the city Fire Department to get her husband’s name added to a memorial that honors FDNY members killed during the terrorist attacks.

Marie Corrigan filed a suit earlier this month in Queens Supreme Court against the Fire Department, the National September 11 Memorial and the Museum at the World Trade Center Foundation.

The Little Neck resident wants the FDNY to recognize that her husband, the late Capt. James Corrigan, 60, was on active duty at the World Trade Center as well as listing his name among the hundreds of firefighters on the department’s 9/11 memorial.

“They are not recognizing him as being active duty,” she said. “My contention is that New York State law reinstated him to active duty as of Sept. 11.”

Corrigan’s two sons, Brendan and Sean, were given “legacy credits” on their entrance exams to the FDNY, said R.J. DeRose, Corrigan’s attorney. The credits bump up the score of any test-taker whose parents were killed in the line of active duty.

“The department supported legislation to see that the Corrigan family was awarded line of duty death benefits, which they received,” FDNY spokesman James Long said. “We acknowledge his service to the city on that day, but he was not an active member of the department on 9/11.”

Corrigan had been working as a fire and safety instructor at the towers, but was killed while helping to evacuate the south tower. He had previously served for 31 years as a city firefighter, retiring in 1994.

“During the course of that day’s events, during and after the terrorist attacks, he worked in conjunction with and under the command of FDNY officials to help coordinate the FDNY’s response to those terrorist attacks,” according to the suit. “Throughout this time, he reassumed his duties as an FDNY firefighter.”

The suit argues that Corrigan stayed to help clear the building despite “sufficient concern about the tower’s imminent collapse.”

“Capt. Corrigan did not stay because he was an employee of Silverstein Properties, but because he was a firefighter standing with his brothers,” according to the suit.

The National Sept. 11 Memorial and the museum have refused to add Corrigan’s name to the list of firefighters killed on 9/11.

Former City Councilman Tony Avella had drafted a resolution in 2002 which called on the city to grant full active duty status to Corrigan as well as William Wren and Phillip Hayes, both of whom had also died on 9/11.

The state Legislature later voted to grant all duties and honors as active duty members to all three men.

“The state has recognized this, but the city refuses to accept it because these men were not officially on the FDNY’s payroll,” Avella said. “We’re dealing with technicalities here. The city continues to drag its feet on this issue.”

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at nduke@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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