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Judge Approves Ground Zero Health Settlement for First Responders

Posted by Jane Akre
Thursday, June 24, 2010 10:34 AM EST
Category: Miscellaneous
Tags: World Trade Center, Terrorist Attacks, Asthma, Cancer, Asbestos, Toxic Air, New York City, First Responders


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IMAGE SOURCE: © Wikimedia Commons / World Trade Center Aerial View (March 2001) / author: Jeffmock

Moving Forward

Up to 95 percent of New York City workers who responded to ground zero and suffered ill health effects have three months to approve a new formal settlement reached with the city.

At a "fairness hearing" held Wednesday in Manhattan, a federal judge gave workers until September 30th to approve the settlement in order for it to take effect.

Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein of U.S. District Court in Manhattan called the settlement “fair, adequate and reasonable” and urged firefighters, police officers, city workers, and first responders to give their approval.

On September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks destroyed the World Trade Center towers in lower Manhattan and killed nearly 3,000 people working inside.

The fumes, smoke, ash, and debris that clouded downtown exposed more than 400,000 to the toxic air.

A registry of more than 10,000 who responded to help report asthma, cancer, and post-traumatic stress disorder that lingers even today.

Judge Hellerstein rejected an initial settlement reached last March as not offering enough to the September 11th workers and too much to attorneys.

Some plaintiffs attending the hearing were in tears and grateful for the settlement, while others say it falls short of just compensation, reports the New York Times.

A sticking point to distributing the more than $712 million was in determining which injuries likely resulted from September 11.

Someone suffering from asthma would likely receive more money than a cancer patient because asthma is more directly linked to dust and fumes emanating from the World Trade Center site.

The Times reports on Kenny Specht, a retired firefighter who has thyroid cancer who says, “To be told now that what I participated in nine years ago didn’t contribute to my cancer is a tough situation to swallow.”

A claims adjuster will determine the amount to be paid to each plaintiff or their estate. The worst injured, who fall into a fourth tier of injuries representing about half of the plaintiffs, are expected to receive the bulk, about 94 percent of the payout.

"There is no question in my mind that this settlement is substantial, fairly administered and good for all plaintiffs," says Paul Napoli ( IB member) an attorney representing plaintiffs.

The WTC Captive Insurance Company is the city’s insurer that will use federal funds to pay the settlement. #


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