NEW YORK — After years of fighting in court, lawyers representing the city, construction companies and more than 10,000 ground zero rescue and recovery workers have agreed to a settlement that could pay up to $657.5 million to responders sickened by dust from the destroyed World Trade Center.
The settlement was announced Thursday evening by the WTC Captive Insurance Co., established to indemnify the city and its contractors against potential legal action as they moved to clean up the site after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
The deal, which still must be approved by a judge and the workers themselves, would make the city and other companies represented by the insurer liable for a minimum of $575 million, with more money available to the sick if certain conditions are met.
Most, if not all, of the money would come out of a $1 billion grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Workers who wish to participate in the settlement would need to prove they had been at the World Trade Center site or other facilities that handled debris. They also would have to turn over medical records and provide other information aimed at weeding out fraudulent or dubious claims. For the settlement to be enforced, 95 percent of the workers would need to agree to be bound by its terms.
The agreement comes two months before the first trials in the case. Thousands of police officers, firefighters and construction workers filed lawsuits against the city, claiming it sent them to ground zero without proper protective equipment. The suits sought damages for hundreds of ailments, including cancer.