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NYC, Victims Settle at $657M in World Trade Center Lawsuit

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By Tanya Roth, Esq. on March 12, 2010 2:15 PM

A $657.5 million settlement was reached in the 9/11 World Trade Center lawsuit. Rescue and recovery workers who were exposed to toxic substances at the World Trade Center site filed suit in 2003 and finally reached an agreement on Thursday night, after years of legal battles. 

There is a catch, however. In order for the settlement to take effect, 95 percent of the plaintiffs of the World Trade Center Lawsuit must accept the terms of the settlement. If 100 percent accept the terms, then the settlement would be $657.5 million. If, however, only 95 percent accept the terms, the settlement would be reduced to $575 million. 

The suit was brought on behalf of thousands of firefighters, police officers, construction experts and emergency workers, among other 9/11 heroes. In a suit with over 10,000 plaintiffs, some plaintiffs may only receive a few thousand dollars from the suit. 

Others, however, stand to receive over a million.

Ultimately, the amount of compensation depends largely on the nature and extent of the injuries. Many filed personal injury lawsuits after the 9/11 attacks for injuries suffered as a result of the rescue efforts, after spending weeks and months working at the site of the World Trade Center. Several of these plaintiffs developed illness from exposure to the toxic cocktail of smoke and other contaminants, illnesses including asbestos related diseases. The plaintiffs alleged, among other allegations, that the defendants failed to adequately protect them from the toxic exposure by failing to provide safety equipment. One firefighter died of esophageal cancer prior to his trial date. 

As for the plaintiffs who have not yet developed any illness or asbestos related diseases but fear that they might, the settlement has a provision for a $23.4 million insurance policy to cover such future claims. 

The book is not closed, however, in this personal injury tale. Although there has been a settlement reached in the WTC lawsuits, the burden still rests on the attorneys to show how much their individual client is entitled to under the total settlement. This process could take several months, if not years.  

The defendants in the 9/11 lawsuits include the city of New York as well as several private companies hired to remove debris at Ground Zero. 

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