After hearing lawyers for nearly 10,000 September 11th terrorist attack responders Wednesday, a federal judge approved a settlement deal reached earlier this month.
United States District Judge Alvin Hellerstein encouraged the plaintiffs to accept the deal that would end a seven-year legal battle over health claims related to the collapse of the World Trade Center and the subsequent clean-up effort.
"This is a victory for New York City, workers, and the city itself. We've been able to put this long trauma behind us," said Corporation Counsel Michael Cardozo.
"The settlement is good because it takes us out of the courthouse, it stops the litigation. It had so many difficulties, so many problems. It puts money into peoples pockets today, tomorrow and the very near future," said plaintiffs' lawyer David Worby.
September 11th payout chief Kenneth Feinberg also supports the deal, which would pay between $625 million and $712 million.
Still, 95 percent of the plaintiffs must agree to the deal for it to be ratified.
About half the plaintiffs are not suffering major illness, but would receive between $3,250 and $11,000 each. Those living with severe illnesses would get the bulk of the settlement, with some individual payments reaching upwards of a million dollars.