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The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey have agreed to a settlement with thousands of Sept 11 workers who cleared rubble from the World Trade Center after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The workers, who cleaned potentially toxic materials without sophisticated respiratory equipment, will receive $47.5 million. In exchange for the settlement, the workers have agreed to drop their lawsuits against the government. Each worker will still have the option of rejecting the settlement and fighting for a larger award in court.
According to U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein, the deal is fair and reasonable. Hellerstein who is overseeing the litigation, revealed the settlement in an order filed Thursday. He called the deal "fair and reasonable." Hellerstein is no stranger to settlements arising out of the 9/11 attacks. Hellerstein recently oversaw a $712 million settlement in the lawsuit between 10,000 ground zero rescue and cleanup workers and New York City. He threw out a $657 settlement because he said it was too small. The settlement in this case, would be added to the previous settlement, bringing the total figure to approximately $760 milion.
The settlement will cover 9,055 rescue and recovery workers, assuming it is approved on October 21 by the Port Authority's board.
After the 9/11 attack years of cleanup were required. Workers claim they were inadequately equipped for the job, especially the risks associated with particulate matter in the air. Thousands of workers filed lawsuits against the city and private contractors over illnesses related to their work, citing respiratory problems ranging from asthma-like to more serious chronic respiratory illness. According to The Daily Record even Sept 11 workers that remained healthy after the work are concerned about their long term health.
The settlement will break down payments depending upon the condition of the workers. The healthy and least sick would receive around $2,000-$3,000 each. The rest would be divided among the more seriously ill workers based on their health as it relates to the cleanup.