US judge sets stage for September 11 illness trials

NEW YORK — A US judge has picked 12 responders to the September 11 attacks whose cases will be the first to go to trial over illnesses caused by ash and dust from the destroyed World Trade Center.
More than 9,000 people who played a role in the massive rescue and recovery operation after the 2001 attacks have filed lawsuits against New York City, claiming they developed a wide variety of health problems after being exposed to soot at the site.
US District Judge Alvin Hellerstein on Friday announced the select few that will go first, and perhaps serve as bellwethers for resolving the rest.
The group includes a firefighter who died of throat cancer and another who needed a lung transplant, several police officers with asthma, and a sampling of other laborers worried about their health.
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