US & Canada

Ground Zero workers exposed to toxic dust take pay deal

A firefighter stands among the remains of the World Trade Center
Image caption Many say they were made sick by dust from the pulverised buildings

Thousands of workers exposed to toxic dust after the 2001 terror attacks in New York have accepted a legal settlement and ceased litigation.

More than 10,000 firefighters, labourers and police who sued the city and dozens of companies will collect a total of at least $625m (£392m).

The workers said they were not properly protected during the rescue and clean-up efforts, with some then falling ill.

Only 520 opted to reject the deal their lawyer described as the "best result".

"This settlement is a fair and just resolution of these claims, protecting those who came to the aid of this city when we needed it most," New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement.

Under the terms of the deal, more than 95% of plaintiffs would have to accept before it could be ratified.

Paul Napoli, chief lawyer for the plaintiffs, described the settlement as "the best result, given the uncertainty of protracted litigation".

He said additional settlements with other companies could yield a further $100m.

Negotiations on the deal between the Ground Zero workers and an insurance company representing New York City and nearly 140 companies involved in the clean-up and rescue spanned nearly two years.

The individual plaintiffs will receive compensation ranging from $3,250, for those who have not become ill, up to $1m for non-smokers who contracted serious respiratory illnesses within seven months of exposure at the World Trade Center site in 2001 and 2002.

The settlement also provides insurance coverage for certain blood and respiratory cancers contracted by the workers.

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