June 11, 2008
Court Clears Way for 9/11 Illness Lawsuit
By JOSEPH GOLDSTEIN, STAFF REPORTER OF THE SUN
March 26, 2008
A federal appeals court has refused to give New York City immunity from the lawsuits of thousands of city workers and construction laborers who say they now suffer from respiratory illnesses after they helped clean up ground zero in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
The lawsuits claim that the city failed to ensure that ground zero was a safe work place. High among the claims is the assertion that the city failed to enforce rules requiring workers to wear respirators while working amid the toxins and rubble.
Citing the unprecedented nature of the disaster, New York City and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, both defendants in the suits, have argued that they are entitled to immunity from the claims. The defendants say they cannot be required to pay out to the workers what could amount to billions of dollars in damages.
A promise to his dying son is why Joseph Zadroga will be present for President Bush's State of the Union Address Monday: to remind Capitol Hill of the importance of continuing health care and compensation for responders exposed to ground zero toxins.
The death of James Zadroga, a New York City detective who responded to the World Trade Center after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, has gained national attention. Two pathologists agreed that his death Jan. 5, 2006, resulted from pulmonary fibrosis, which they linked to ground zero contaminants.