Lawyers for the responders to the September 11 attacks will be back in court today to try to strike a deal that would end a seven-year legal battle over the toxic fallout caused by the collapse of the World Trade Center.
U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein has approved a settlement that could pay more than $700 million to 9/11 responders exposed to toxic World Trade Center dust. The deal still must be approved by 95 percent of the plaintiffs, who are expected to make a decision by September. The tort was filed by nearly 10,000 police officers, firefighters and construction workers who sued the city over their exposure to the ash.
The settlement would pay between $625 million and $712.5 million, depending on how many people take it. Lawyers are estimating payouts of just over $3,000 to people worried they may become ill, and lawyers on both sides of the case are encouraging plaintiffs to take the settlement.
Meanwhile, New York City officials say a renewed search this year of debris in and around the World Trade Center site has recovered 72 human remains. The sifting of more than 800 cubic yards of debris recovered from Ground Zero and underneath roads around the lower Manhattan site began in April and ended last Friday.
The remains of 37 people were found in material underneath West Street, a highway on the west side of Ground Zero. The new debris was uncovered as construction work made new parts of the site accessible.
The city began a renewed search for human remains in 2006. More than 1,800 remains have been found so far. Some have been matched to previously unidentified September 11 victims.
6/23/10 6:15 PM: THIS STORY HAS BEEN UPDATED TO INCLUDE INFORMATION THAT THE JUDGE APPROVED THE SETTLEMENT.