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March 21, 2010


In an emotional reversal this week, a federal judge tossed out a financial package that was meant to compensate rescue, relief, and reclamation workers for health problems related to their efforts at Ground Zero in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.

According to Alison Gendar and Corky Siemaszko, writing in the New York Daily News, “A judge Friday tore up a $575 million deal for Ground Zero workers - and ordered lawyers to come up with a settlement that matches the sacrifice of the sick. Stunned 9/11 heroes applauded and city officials grimaced after Judge Alvin Hellerstein scuttled the agreement struck by lawyers just last week.

“‘In my judgment, this settlement is not enough,’ Hellerstein said after hearing tearful rescue and cleanup workers vent frustration in Manhattan Federal Court. ‘From the beginning I felt ... that the people who responded on 9/11 were our heroes,’ he said, speaking from ‘the heart’ without any notes for 25 minutes. ‘They cushioned the blow. ... They brought us back from that blow.’

“But now, he said, they were being shortchanged and pushed into signing on to an incomprehensible deal before they even knew how much they would get. In the end, they would probably receive too little, while lawyers who stood to make $200 million would get too much, he said.”

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