America

In New World Trade Center Settlement, Plaintiffs Get More Money, Pay Fewer Fees

Under a new settlement, several thousand workers who sued New York City after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, arguing they didn't have adequate safety tools or proper supervision during recovery and clean-up operations, will pay smaller legal fees and receive a larger payout.

"Lawyers for the city and about 10,000 rescue and cleanup workers at ground zero have negotiated a new settlement under which the city's insurer kicks in more money and the plaintiffs' lawyers reduce their legal fees to give the workers more money than the original agreement called for," The New York Times reports.

After nearly three months of renegotiations, the city’s insurer, the WTC Captive Insurance Company, has agreed to increase its payout to plaintiffs to $712.5 million. The previous terms called for payouts totaling $575 million to $657.5 million.

In addition, the plaintiffs’ lawyers have agreed to reduce their fees to a maximum of 25 percent of the settlement amount, down from the 33.33 percent called for in the contingency fee agreements their clients signed. As a result, the plaintiffs will get to keep an additional $50 million.

In a press release, the lawyers involved say the "plaintiffs who allege the most serious injuries will receive the majority of the increased payments."

Under this settlement, those claiming debilitating respiratory illnesses such as severe asthma, contracted by a non-smoker within seven months of exposure at the World Trade Center site and surrounding areas, could receive between $800,000 and $1,050,000, and approximately $1.5 million could go to compensate claims of death determined to be caused by the post  9/11 operations.  Plaintiffs who have no qualifying injury, but have a legal claim for fear of becoming sick, will receive $3,250.  All qualifying plaintiffs will be enrolled in a special insurance policy through MetLife to provide coverage for certain blood and respiratory cancers diagnosed during the coverage period, paying a benefit of up to $100,000.

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