Two years of negotiations that led to a deal between those representing injured workers and New York City nearly resulted in a $657.5 million settlement. However, a federal judge threw a wrench in the settlement when he issued orders that could derail the whole deal.
The settlement was reached by attorneys for the city and representatives for injured Ground Zero workers, including firefighters, police, and others harmed while doing their job on or after September 11. However, orders from U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein are blocking the settlement.
Judge Hellerstein ordered that lawyer fees should not be drawn from the federally funded WTC Captive Insurance Company. In addition the judge ordered that workers should know ahead of time how much they should expect in the settlement before they agree to join.
It is important that injured workers know what they are getting into with this settlement and feel comfortable enough to go forward, since 95 percent of the nearly 10,000 plaintiffs must participate in order for the deal to go through.
New York City is appealing the judge’s order. The city does not agree that the judge should have judicial control over who will oversee the settlement, nor should the judge have control over which doctors will be retained to assess claims in this case. In addition, the city is appealing an additional hearing and the judge’s revised schedule for the case.