NEW YORK — More than 10,000 workers exposed to the tons of toxic dust that blanketed ground zero after the World Trade Center fell have ended their bruising legal fight with New York City and joined a settlement worth at least $625 million, officials said Friday.
The deal will resolve an overwhelming majority of the lawsuits over the city's failure to provide protective equipment to the army of construction workers, police officers and firefighters who spent months clearing and sifting rubble after Sept. 11, 2001.
Among the thousands who sued, claiming that soot at the site got into their lungs and made them sick, more than 95 percent eligible for the settlement agreed to take the offer. Only 520 said no or failed to respond.
City officials and lawyers for the workers said they welcomed a resolution to a case that had pitted New York and a long list of demolition companies against the very men and women who helped lower Manhattan recover. "This settlement is a fair and just resolution of these claims, protecting those who came to the aid of this City when we needed it most," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement.