Imagine a workplace safety and health lawsuit involving more than 9,000 plaintiffs, 90 government agencies and private companies, tons of pages of court documents, and several hundred lawyers. It’s the 9/11 Ground Zero case.
The mammoth size of this case is the bad news.
The good news: A detailed settlement plan (about 70 pages) has been drafted, according to The New York Times.
Lawyers for both sides are engaged in intensive talks aimed at settling some or all the cases.
The first 12 cases are scheduled for trial on May 16 in Manhattan.
Firefighters, police officers, construction workers and other emergency responders claim New York City, its contractors and other government agencies offered inadequate safety procedures and supervision to shield them from exposure to contaminants while working at the 16-acre site where the World Trade Center towers once stood.
The lead lawyer for the defendants contends no link can be proven between the workers’ illnesses and exposure at Ground Zero.
All involved are selecting a small group of sample cases to bring to trial, hoping that the verdicts will guide settlement of the remaining lawsuits.
The number of people involved isn’t the only complicating factor in this case. The collapse of the two towers created a toxic soup the likes of which have never been encountered.
A professor who specializes in mass torts told The Times that there’s not a lot of experience with this kind of risk.