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'Ground Zero' settlement criticized

April 4, 2010 at 3:08 PM

NEW YORK, April 4 (UPI) -- Proposed compensation for Ground Zero workers' health claims is unfair for the workers and too generous for lawyers, the U.S. judge handling the cases says.

U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein criticized the settlement and has called for further negotiations "to come up with a better and fair" deal, including "more money to pay for … cancers," the New York Post reported Sunday.

Under the proposed compensation, estimated at between $575 million and $675 million, Sept. 11, 2001, workers with solid-tumor cancers or who have suffered heart attacks would get the least compensation, because it's hard to prove such cases were related to Ground Zero's toxic environment, the Post reported.

Under the settlement, one worker with esophageal cancer would get $5,800, while another worker diagnosed with asthma and related ailments would get $175,000.

"These rankings seem to give preference to mild and moderate illness at the expense of severe, life-changing injury," a lawyer for the esophageal cancer victim wrote to Hellerstein.

"($5,800 is) not enough to pay for his burial," attorney Gregory Cannata said. "This is a disgrace."

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