Co-authored by Rebecca S. Bjork and Gerald L. Maatman, Jr.

On November 19, 2010, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York approved the settlement of claims of over 10,000 workers against New York City and its contractors over the workers’ exposure to toxic debris during the cleanup of the World Trade Center disaster site following the September 11 terrorist attacks. View Order. The settlement became effective since the opt-in plaintiffs accepting the offers of settlement exceeded the 95 percent threshold set forth in the Settlement Process Agreement with New York City and its contractors. As of November 18, approximately 10,043 of 10,563 plaintiffs had signed on to the settlement agreement in the litigation entitled In Re World Trade Center Disaster Site Litigation, Case No. 21-MC-100 (S.D.N.Y.).

The settlement created a compensation fund to resolve personal injury and disease claims by more than 10,000 police, firefighters, and other rescue, recovery, and cleanup workers at the WTC site. The World Trade Center Captive Insurance Co., created in 2004 under a $1 billion Federal Emergency Management Agency grant, will pay into the fund. The settlement covers nearly 140 defendants, led by New York City and its private debris removal contractors and subcontractors involved at the site of the terrorist attacks and buildings collapses. Claim valuations will be overseen by a neutral third party, known as an allocation neutral, assisted by a panel of independent physicians. This neutral third party filed a report with the Court on November 19 regarding the opt-in status of the plaintiffs. It is expected that the settlement agreement is worth between $625 million and $712.5 million, depending on the overall payments to the opt-in plaintiffs.

Once finalized and implemented, the overall settlement will be one of the largest paid in a workplace class action ever.