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June 10, 2010 11:42 AM

Report: WTC Respiratory Suits Settlement Reached

Posted by Brian Baxter

FEMA_5328_Photograph#12FD9B UPDATE: June 10, 12:12 p.m. The New York Times reports that the new settlement value for 9/11 plaintiffs is $712.5 million.

After nearly six years of litigation, a new settlement has been reached among parties in the thousands of cases brought by plaintiffs who worked at Ground Zero, reports the New York Law Journal, a sibling publication.

At a hearing this morning in federal court in Manhattan, attorneys for the various parties--plaintiffs, the City of New York, and contractors that worked at the site--are set to appear before U.S. district court judge Alvin Hellerstein, who is overseeing the wrongful death, property damage, and personal injury suits arising from the 9/11 attacks.

Hellerstein, whose work in the case has received both praise and criticism, previously rejected a settlement of suits filed by more than 10,000 Ground Zero workers seeking compensation for health problems triggered by their exposure to dust and ash inhaled in the aftermath of 9/11.

The settlement reached in early March called for $657 million to be paid to the plaintiffs from the World Trade Center Captive Insurance Co., which was funded by a $1 billion grant from FEMA to enable the city and contractors to purchase insurance to cover WTC claims, according to the NYLJ.

But Hellerstein found the payout inadequate, expressing concern over a 33 percent contingency fee arranged by the plaintiffs' lawyers. Paul Napoli of Worby Groner Edelman & Napoli Bern is serving as lead plaintiffs' liaison counsel in the case. (The firm is a joint venture between White Plains, N.Y.-based Worby Groner Edelman and New York's Napoli Bern Ripka formed to litigate the case.)

Last week plaintiffs' counsel agreed to cap their fees at 20 percent--or roughly $115 million in fees--allowing the remaining balance to be divided among the plaintiffs.

James Tyrrell, Jr., national chair of the toxic tort and product liability practice at Patton Boggs, is representing New York City in the litigation. Tyrrell is managing partner of the firm's New York/New Jersey offices. Patton Boggs has reaped nearly $120 million in fees from representing the city in the case, which tested its client's claims of immunity.

According to a previous report by the NYLJ, Margaret "Peg" Warner, leader of the controversies business unit at McDermott Will & Emery, is serving as lead counsel for the WTC Captive Insurance Co.


Photo by Andrea Booher/FEMA News Photo

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