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New proposal for sick WTC workers tops $700 million

From Cheryl Robinson, CNN
  • Judge calls proposed settlement "a very good deal"
  • Settlement would add $125 million to March proposal
  • Public hearing set for June 23

New York (CNN) -- The U.S. District Judge overseeing the lawsuit filed by thousands of 9/11 first responders exposed to toxic dust at ground zero called the proposed amended settlement "a very good deal."

The amended settlement will increase compensation to plaintiffs claiming injuries from rescue, recovery and debris removal operations at the World Trade Center site by an additional $125 million.

Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein told reporters he was "very excited about this deal," adding that plaintiffs will be "assured a fair deal that puts money in their hands fast."

The amended settlement raises the total compensation for sick first responders from $625 million proposed in the March 11 settlement to $712 million and caps attorney fees to 25 percent of the total settlement.

Additionally, people claiming severe respiratory issues contracted within seven months of exposure at the WTC site or any surrounding areas could receive between $800,000 and $1,050,000. Plaintiffs not suffering from a qualifying injury, but have a legal claim fearing they will become sick can receive $3,250. Claims of death proven to be caused by post 9/11 operations could receive $1.5 million in compensation.

"I applaud Judge Hellerstein and the attorneys on both sides for going back to the bargaining table to offer more help to those who lost their health because of the attacks on America," said New York Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney in a statement.

A public hearing will be scheduled on June 23 for all parties involved in the settlement. Ninety-five percent of the plaintiffs have to agree to opt in for the settlement to be finalized. They will have until September 30 to review the settlement and decide if they will participate.