Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Judge in 9/11 Injuries Lawsuit Seeks Bigger Settlement


The events that took place on September 11, 2001, forever emotionally scarred the lives of the people of New York City. For some, that day also permanently altered their physical well-being. A startling number of rescue workers and volunteers who labored tirelessly at the site of the remains of the World Trade Center, known as Ground Zero, have reported that they have been diagnosed with cancer. Hundreds of these people are suing New York City over cancer diagnoses they received after working at the site. The lawsuit claims that the dust produced at the trade center was toxic and caused dozens of cases of cancer to emerge in firefighters, police officers, emergency medical teams, and civilian volunteers.

Last week, U.S. Judge Alvin Hellerstein rejected a proposed $575 million that would go to thousands of 9/11 responders in part because he believed that the final number should include more money for cancer victims. But whether or not all the cancer cases are a result of Ground Zero is now in question. Proving that the dust at the site is the cause of cancer is extremely difficult. With multiple theories and little proof of whether the dust is actually the cause, scientists and legal experts are at a standstill. Further complicating the issue is the set of statistics that show the cancer rates among those who worked in the World Trade Center debris are in alignment with cancer rates found in the general public. The lack of evidence directly linking cancer to the toxic dust found at Ground Zero has slowed down the efforts to craft a compensation package for sick workers. The cancer dilemma, as Judge Hellerstein sees it, is one that it is worth further examination regardless of how difficult the connection is to prove.

Nearly 10,000 workers have claimed illnesses or injuries related to 9/11. Lawyers are desperately trying to figure out a fair settlement while Washington awaits the arrival of a health bill that would care for 9/11 responders. In the meantime, all future trials and settlements relating to 9/11 injuries have been put on hold.

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