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NYC questioning 9/11 claims of responders

By Associated Press
February 18, 2010

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NEW YORK - Lawyers defending New York City against thousands of lawsuits filed by Sept. 11 emergency responders say many of the claims are baseless and have asked a judge to dismiss some of the first cases headed toward trial.

In a series of court filings late Tuesday, the city’s legal team detailed several instances in which it said people who claimed to have been sickened by World Trade Center ash were already ill before the attacks.

One former Fire Department battalion chief who attributed respiratory problems to the dust had been granted a disability pension for the same type of breathing ailments in 1999, the city said.

A 400-pound utility worker who said he developed shortness of breath and other health problems after being deployed to ground zero had breathing problems diagnosed before 2001, the city said.

The city has asked the judge who is presiding over the case to dismiss 17 suits on a variety of grounds.

Paul Napoli, the lead lawyer for more than 9,000 police officers, firefighters, construction laborers, and other ground zero workers, dismissed the city’s motions as posturing.