Friday, March 19th, 2010
David B. Caruso, Associated Press
March 19, 2010
A federal judge rejected a multimillion dollar settlement for people sickened by ash and dust from the World Trade Center, saying the deal to compensate 10,000 police officers, firefighters and other laborers didn’t contain enough money.
U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein on Friday rejected a legal settlement that would have given at least $575 million to the victims, saying the deal shortchanged ground zero workers whom he called heroes.
“In my judgment, this settlement is not enough,” said U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein, who delivered his pronouncement to a stunned gallery at a federal courthouse in Manhattan.
Rising from his chair, the 76-year-old jurist said he feared police officers, firefighters and other laborers who cleared rubble after the 9/11 terror attacks were being pushed into signing a deal few of them understood.
Under the terms of the settlement, workers had been given just 90 days to say yes or no to a deal that would have assigned them payments based on a point system that Hellerstein said was complicated enough to make a Talmudic scholar’s head spin.
“I will not preside over a settlement that is based on fear or ignorance,” he said.