Miami herald  a letter from

`I have worked hard for Holocaust survivors’

Re the Oct. 12 letter Honored lawyer betrayed Nazi victims: For the past decade, I have served as a principal lawyer for Holocaust victims seeking relief from German industry and Swiss banks. My efforts have played a major role in distributing more than $6 billion, thus far, to more than one million survivors or their heirs throughout the world — $1.25 billion from the Swiss bank settlement; $5.2 billion from the settlement of slave labor cases against German industry.

David Mermelstein and the letter’s other signatories are Holocaust survivors. They argue that too much money has been distributed to destitute survivors in the former Soviet Union and not enough to survivors in the United States. They presented their objection to Chief Judge Edward Korman, the federal judge who is administering the Swiss-bank settlement in Brooklyn. Korman ruled that the level of need was far greater among the Soviet survivors. Mermelstein’s argument to the federal appeals court in Manhattan was unanimously rejected. Mermelstein then took his argument to the Supreme Court, which unanimously rejected it on June 19, 2006.

Mermelstein also presented his claim that I unfairly tricked him into withdrawing an appeal. Chief Judge Korman rejected the charge as unfair and inaccurate. Mermelstein then argued to the federal appeals court, which rejected the charge.

Complaints about my fee application are misinformed and unfair. I waived my fee for obtaining the historic $1.25 billion Swiss bank settlement. Under current law, I would have been entitled to $10 million. When Chief Judge Korman asked me to serve as lead settlement counsel, a grueling job that would last for many years, I explained that I could not continue to work indefinitely for nothing. He agreed that I would charge an hourly fee for post-settlement work.

I have put in over 8,000 hours during seven years as lead settlement counsel, guiding the Swiss-bank settlement to a successful distribution, thus far, of more than $900 million to more than 400,000 people. I do not apologize for seeking a reasonable fee for my hard work.

The claim that I have interfered with insurance claims against the Italian insurance company, Generali, is preposterous. I had absolutely nothing to do with the bungled litigation against Generali.

Finally, the attack on the New York Lawyers’ Division of the Anti-Defamation League for honoring me criticizes an important bulwark of the Jewish community at a time when voices of hate imperil us. Because they are Holocaust survivors, we owe Mermelstein and his colleagues respect and deference. But being a survivor does not exempt them from telling the truth and behaving with common decency.