After the 2001 terror attacks, thousands of workers in New York were exposed to toxic dust. More than 10,000 firefighters, labourers and police sued the city and dozens of companies, saying they were not properly protected during the rescue and clean-up efforts. (photo, from bbcimg.co.uk)
They have now accepted a legal settlement and ceased litigation. They will collect a total of at least $625m.
520 opted to reject the deal described by Paul Napoli, chief lawyer for the plaintiffs, as “the best result, given the uncertainty of protracted litigation”.
“This settlement is a fair and just resolution of these claims, protecting those who came to the aid of this city when we needed it most,” New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement.
More than 95% of plaintiffs would have to accept the deal before it could be ratified.
Settlements with other companies could yield to another $100m, Napoli said.
It took nearly two years to this deal between the Ground Zero workers and an insurance company representing New York City and nearly 140 companies.
This settlement will provide compensation ranging from $3,250, for those who have not become ill, up to $1m for non-smokers who contracted serious respiratory illnesses within seven months of exposure at the World Trade Center site in 2001 and 2002.
Insurance coverage for certain blood and respiratory cancers, contracted by the workers, are also included in the settlement.