Ten thousand rescue workers and cleanup workers from 9/11's Ground Zero that filed lawsuits against the city for respiratory-related ailments have reached a settlement with the city for up to $657.5 million dollars.
The dispensing of the money will happen on a case by case basis, and because of the "intense public interest" of the case, according to the New York Times, the judge, Judge Hellerstein, will review each settlement and hold "fairness hearings," which according to legal experts is unusual.
According to MSNBC, most, if not all of the funds for this settlement will come from a grant for $1 billion dollars from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
According to the New York Times the city initially questioned the timing and connection of these illnesses to 9/11, and considered themselves immune from damages during a national emergency.
Many plaintiffs and their families seem content with the settlement, but some are still outraged with the city's reaction and timing.
"Why did families who had to bury somebody have to wait this long?" saidKenny Specht, 41, a retired firefighter who has thyroid cancer. "Why didn't they handle this in a timely manner?"
I believe that even though in large cases like this where a person's tendency is to side with the victims of the situation, I can see how skeptical the city would be in dealing with a situtation like this. If people are filing lawsuits because of things such as asthma, which could develop in a person over any period of time, I would be skeptical too. But the main issue here, it seems to me, is not necessarily that these workers did in fact have health problems after spending anywhere from weeks to months cleaning up after 9/11, but that they were the ones who did the dirty work for the city, and for the country, and that they should get some kind of compensation for the aftermath. I think the city is handling it well by agreeing to a hefty settlement, and I think the judge is also handling it well by following up on each individual settlement to make sure it's fair.