$27.5m settlement for 9/11 workers

A group of workers who claimed they suffered health problems as a result of being exposed to debris from ground zero during its removal and transfer to a landfill on Staten Island stand to receive $27.5 million in a settlement announced on Friday.

The workers are a subgroup of the more than 10,000 plaintiffs who must decide whether to accept a far larger settlement with the city and its contractors over respiratory illnesses and injuries that they say they sustained because the defendants failed to ensure the safety of the workers after the Sept. 11 attack.

Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein of United States District Court in Manhattan, who is overseeing the mass litigation, said in an order issued Friday that the plaintiffs affected by the latest settlement could claim money from it only if they opted into the larger settlement with the city.

That settlement, up to $712.5 million, requires the approval of 95 percent of the plaintiffs by Monday to be valid.

The workers affected by the smaller settlement had sued the city and Weeks Marine Inc., a marine transportation company, charging that they were exposed to contaminants at the piers or on the barges that ran between the World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan and the Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island during the debris removal.

Judge Hellerstein said that Lloyd’s of London and London Insurance Companies, which insured the city and the barge company, agreed to pay $27.5 million to the workers and contribute an additional $500,000 for administrative costs. He said individual settlement amounts would be paid according to the type and the severity of injuries and under the same rules as those used for the larger settlement, which will be paid by the W.T.C. Captive Insurance Company from a federally financed fund.

Last month, lawyers for the plaintiffs also reached a separate, $47 million settlement with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, owner of the World Trade Center, on behalf of another subgroup of more than 9,000 workers. That settlement, however, is not contingent upon acceptance of any other agreement.

Source: The New York Times

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