NEW YORK — Lawyers for the families of four Sept. 11 victims are urging a judge to reconsider his decision to reject $28.5-million in settlements that he now says are excessive compared with those that other survivors received.
U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein had approved four settlements ranging from $5.5-million to $8-million weeks ago, but reversed himself July 24, saying that the amounts were "disproportionately large" and that they "embarrass and prejudice" those who settled earlier. He referred to the four victims as "modest wage earners at the Pentagon."
Their families were among fewer than 100 who sued over deaths or injuries from the Sept. 11 attacks. More than 5,000 others received money from a special fund established by Congress that distributed more than $7-billion.
Hellerstein's ruling provided a status report on the more than 10,000 Sept. 11 lawsuits slowly winding through the courts.
He said settlements had been reached in all but a dozen of the 95 wrongful death and personal injury lawsuits he oversees stemming from the Sept. 11 attacks. He also is responsible for thousands of lawsuits brought by workers involved in the search, rescue and clean-up efforts at the World Trade Center after the attacks.