Quantcast
Connect with us

New York City settles with 9/11 heroes for up to $657.5 million

Published

on

After years of fighting in court, lawyers representing the city, construction companies and more than 10,000 ground zero rescue and recovery workers have agreed to a settlement that could pay up to $657.5 million to responders sickened by dust from the destroyed World Trade Center.

The settlement was announced Thursday evening by the WTC Captive Insurance Co., a special entity established to indemnify the city and its contractors against potential legal action as they moved to clean up the site after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

ADVERTISEMENT

The deal, which still must be approved by a judge and the workers themselves, would make the city and other companies represented by the insurer liable for a minimum of $575 million, with more money available to the sick if certain conditions are met.

Most if not all of the money would come out of a $1 billion grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg called the settlement “a fair and reasonable resolution to a complex set of circumstances.”

“The resolution of the World Trade Center litigation will allow the first responders and workers to be compensated for injuries suffered following their work at Ground Zero,” he said in a statement.

Marc Bern, a senior partner with the law firm Worby, Groner, Edelman & Napoli, Bern LLP, which negotiated the deal, said it was “a good settlement.”

ADVERTISEMENT

“We are gratified that these heroic men and women who performed their duties without consideration of the health implications will finally receive just compensation for their pain and suffering, lost wages, medical and other expenses, as the U.S. Congress intended when it appropriated this money,” he said in a statement.

Workers who wish to participate in the settlement would need to prove they had been at the World Trade Center site or other facilities that handled debris. They also would have to turn over medical records and provide other information aimed at weeding out fraudulent or dubious claims.

For the settlement to be enforced, 95 percent of the workers would need to agree to be bound by its terms.

ADVERTISEMENT

The agreement comes with just two months to go until the first trials are to begin in the case. Thousands of police officers, firefighters and construction workers who put in time at the 16-acre site in lower Manhattan had filed lawsuits against the city, claiming it sent them to ground zero without proper protective equipment.

Many of those workers now claim to have fallen ill. A majority complained of a respiratory problem similar to asthma, but the suits also sought damages for hundreds of other types of ailments, including cancer.

ADVERTISEMENT

Lawyers for the city claimed it did its best to get respiratory equipment to everyone who needed it. They also had challenged some of the claims as based on the thinnest of medical evidence, noting that thousands of the people suing suffered from conditions common in the general population or from no illness at all.

Under the settlement, the task of deciding what each worker will be paid will fall to a neutral third party, to be picked by the two sides. Lawyers for the plaintiffs have previously said they favor Kenneth Feinberg, the special master who determined payouts from the federal fund set up to compensate victims of the terror attacks.

Payments will be based on a system that ranks each illness by severity and factors in potential exposure to the dust.

ADVERTISEMENT

Some workers are likely to receive payments of only a few thousand dollars. Others could be in line to get more than $1 million, depending on their injuries.

A special insurance fund will be set up to cover workers who develop cancer in the future.

Lawyer Andrew Carboy, who represented a group of firefighters in the case, said he would urge them to accept the deal.

“The proposed settlement demonstrates that the justice system can tackle such a factually complicated and emotionally charged situation,” he said. “The settlement, most importantly, will treat each worker as an individual. And their settlement will be based on the merits of their case.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Both sides in the case were scheduled to appear Friday afternoon before the federal judge handling the litigation, U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein, who previously had said he favored a settlement but planned to analyze it carefully to make sure it was fair.

The settlement would mean a postponement or cancellation of the trials tentatively scheduled to begin in May. Some of the cases scheduled to be heard first included that of a firefighter who died of throat cancer and another who needed a lung transplant, as well as workers with less serious ailments, including a Consolidated Edison utility company employee with limited exposure to the debris pile and no current serious illness.

The $1 billion fund created by Congress to help insure the city has been depleted somewhat by the long legal battle in the case, with the bill so far running to more than $200 million.

The Worby, Groner, Edelman & Napoli, Bern law partnership, which represents 9,000 of the plaintiffs, is expected to take as much as a third or more of the total settlement in legal fees, based on contingency agreements it signed with each client.

ADVERTISEMENT


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

COVID-19

Santa Clara County moves to shut down all 49ers activities for three-week minimum

Published

on

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — The 49ers might not be able to practice at their Santa Clara facility or host games at Levi’s Stadium in the coming weeks.That announcement was made Saturday by James Williams, counsel for Santa Clara County, in a news briefing as the county’s public health department announced new COVID-19 protocols amid the growing number of new cases in the area and decreased availability of hospital beds.Per the county’s new health guidelines, contact sports will be prohibited in the county for a minimum of the next three weeks. That means the 49ers, Stanford football team, San Jose S... (more…)

Continue Reading

2020 Election

Trump loses another election court challenge

Published

on

The US state of Pennsylvania's supreme court dismissed another legal challenge to the election by supporters of President Donald Trump on Saturday, further reducing his already near-impossible odds of overturning the results.

A Republican lawsuit had sought to invalidate mail-in ballots in the battleground state that President-elect Joe Biden won by about 81,000 votes -- or to throw out all votes and allow the state's legislature to decide the winner.

The court dismissed both claims in a unanimous decision, calling the second one an "extraordinary proposition that the court disenfranchise all 6.9 million Pennsylvanians who voted in the general election."

Continue Reading
 

Latest Headlines

Cindy McCain could be in line to be Joe Biden’s ambassador to Britain

Published

on

Cindy McCain is reportedly the odds-on favorite to be named President-elect Joe Biden’s ambassador to Great Britain.The widow of former Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain has been tipped to be Biden’s envoy in London once he takes over the White House in January, the Times of London reported Saturday.Cindy McCain, a lifelong Republican, switched sides to campaign for Biden against President Donald Trump this fall.She is credited with helping nudge some Republicans away from Trump, especially in her home state of Arizona, where the McCain name is political gold.Cindy McCain woul... (more…)

Continue Reading