In town-hall-style meetings in recent weeks, the federal judge presiding over the cases, Alvin K. Hellerstein of United States District Court in Manhattan, has urged the plaintiffs to accept the settlement as imperfect but reasonable.
In letters to clients, lawyers for Worby Groner Edelman and Napoli
Bern, the firms representing more than 9,000 of the plaintiffs, spell
out how costly the cases could prove if they go to trial.
“Your trial-related costs are likely to be in the range of $50,000 to
$150,000, not including attorney’s fees,” each plaintiff’s letter says.
Many have pinned their hopes on a third alternative: a bill in Congress
that would pay $7.4 billion for health care and monitoring programs and
for reopening the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund, which awarded
money to workers who got sick before the fund closed in 2003. But that
legislation was voted down in the House, and its future is highly
uncertain. “It happened in New York City, and personally I think the
rest of the country could care less,” Mr. Carrano said.
As a result, many plaintiffs consider the settlement their best hope.
Tyree Bacon, a senior court officer with the New York State criminal
court who volunteered at ground zero, said he was taking the settlement
— in his case, about $11,000. To him, the legal battle was never about
the money but about calling attention to the health consequences
suffered by those “who stepped up to the plate” after the terrorist