Ground Zero Rescue Worker Lawsuits Subject of Settlement Talks

Media sources are reporting that settlement talks are underway in thousands of lawsuits brought by rescue workers who helped in rescue and recovery efforts at <"">Ground Zero in the weeks following the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. The first of 12 such lawsuits are scheduled to go to trial in May.

In the hours and days after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, thousands of rescue workers descended on Ground Zero to help with recovery efforts. Sifting through dust and rubble, sometimes with their bare hands, many lacked the clothing and equipment that could have kept them safe from harm. Several studies have confirmed that Ground Zero first responders continue to suffer from ill health as a result of their exposure to toxic dust at the site, including lung diseases and post-traumatic stress disorder. It is also known that the chemicals they were exposed to included several carcinogens.

According to a report in The New York Times, Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein, who is overseeing the litigation, said at a recent hearing that a detailed settlement plan had been drafted, and that “there have been intensive discussions going on looking to settlements of individual cases and globally of all cases”.

At least 9,000 Ground Zero rescue workers have filed suit against 90 government and private entities, claiming that contaminants at the site made them ill. Plaintiffs claim that inadequate safeguards were taken to prevent them from becoming ill. Defendants include the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Plaintiffs include firefighters, police officers, and construction workers.

According to a report in The New York Law Journal, the lawsuits allege as many as 325 illnesses, including 57 types of cancer were caused by toxins at the site.

The defendants are claiming immunity under a variety of theories, including laws granting immunity for actions taken in response to emergencies.

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