|Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg urged workers to take the deal.|
NEW YORK — A lawyer representing 10,000 ground zero workers suing New York City over their exposure to World Trade Center dust said yesterday that 75 percent have signed a settlement resolving their claims and most of the rest have indicated they will do so.
Those figures suggest the city may be close to resolving a legal battle with construction workers, police officers, and firefighters who developed respiratory problems and other illnesses after working in the sooty ruins after Sept. 11, 2001. The settlement, worth as much as $713 million, requires that 95 percent of the plaintiffs sign on by Nov. 8.
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg implored workers again yesterday to take the settlement, saying they would avoid a drawn-out fight while guaranteeing themselves at least some compensation.
“We have no desire to be fighting in court with those who acted unselfishly and heroically in their response to that attack, both on 9/11 and in its aftermath,’’ Bloomberg told reporters.
Since the spring, the thousands suing over the lack of proper masks and other protections at the site have been deciding whether to take a settlement that would pay them a few thousand dollars to more than $1 million, depending on the severity of their illness and the likelihood it is connected to the dust.
Lawyers on both sides of the case have been campaigning hard for several months to hit the 95 percent target.
Paul Napoli, who leads a legal partnership representing the bulk of the workers involved in the suit, said 75 percent of his clients had signed on, and that if he counted those who have said they intend to opt in but haven’t completed the paperwork, the acceptance rate tops 90 percent. Bloomberg urged the workers not to miss the deadline.
Congress is also considering legislation that would provide billions of dollars’ worth of free health care compensation payments to the workers.