NY 1 - November 09, 2010by Grant Greenberg
The deadline for workers to file was set for 12 a.m. Tuesday.
Attorneys were working to reach the 95-percent threshold needed for the settlement to take effect.
As of late Monday, they say about 90 percent of the plaintiffs have signed on. And while the final count is not immediately known, attorneys say they are optimistic the threshold will be reached.
The deal could be worth as much as $815 million once all the defendants in the case settle with the group representing the plaintiffs.
Workers who have become ill from the toxic dust at the World Trade Center site could receive payments ranging from a few thousand dollars to $2 million depending on the severity of their illnesses.
More than 10,000 people have sued the city and companies that handled the cleanup in Lower Manhattan. Most claim the government and contractors didn't provide proper equipment to protect their lungs.
"I get lung infections, sinus infections, trouble in heat, never had problems breathing," said carpenter and 9/11 responder James Nolan.
Unlike city workers and other emergency responders, carpenters like Nolan were not necessarily covered by relief funds, partly because insurers argued some were not there soon enough after the attack to be sick from it.
"The building tradesmen from New York City showed up on 9/11, we were there for our city and our country and city, and we're basically left behind," Nolan said.
Workers who accept the city's settlement would still be eligible for the $7 billion September 11th health bill pending in Congress.
New York lawmakers are trying to bring the measure to a vote in the Senate in the lame-duck session. Just 17 Republicans voted for the measure in the House, putting the pressure on Democrats in the Senate to get the bill passed before the end of the year.
"We have every Democrat, that's 59 or it may be 58 cause Senator Burress will be replaced by Senator-elect Kirk before the lame duck, will vote for it," said New York Senator Charles Schumer.
"We need a couple of Republicans to join us. We're working hard to convince them this is the right thing to do regardless of party."
The bill is named for New York City Police Department Detective James Zadroga, who died of respiratory illness after working for months at the World Trade Center site.