That’s the big question in all the New York newspapers today ( see New York Daily News, NY Times, NY Post and New York Law Journal ). One eligible firefighter stated on radio today that this decision was tougher than his decision to go into the burning World Trade Center on 9/11 – and I believe that is the case for many of the close to 10,000 plaintiffs in this case. That firefighter has decided to take the settlement, although he is unsure of what his eventual recovery will be. Another cancer victim has decided not to accept the settlement.
In addition, I have received over 10 telephone calls already this morning from potentially eligible plaintiffs who still did not know about the lawsuit and settlement. That’s a shame since it is estimated that close to 40,000 workers and volunteers participated in the cleanup at Ground Zero, yet only 10,000 are involved in the present lawsuit. The current lead plaintiff attorneys are no longer taking new cases (they have their hands full), and potential future plaintiffs may find it difficult to find any attorney at this point.
Finally, what happens to the workers who are not yet sick, participated in the cleanup, but get sick in the future with cancer or lung problems? Perhaps their only recourse will be to hope that the Zadroga bill to re-open the 9/11 Victims’ Compensation Fund is is signed into law. Zadroga was recently passed by the House of Representatives, but is facing an uncertain future in the lame duck Senate.
As I have stated in prior posts, I believe the current settlement is the "best possible" for now, and I urge the plaintiffs to approve it. I understand that it is a tough choice and not the perfect solution. However, the alternative is an uncertain future and perhaps getting nothing in the end given some valid legal defenses to these claims. That would be flushing $712.5 million down the drain. Is the bird in the hand better than two in the bush…?