Judge extends deadline for ill 9/11 responders

(AP) - A federal judge has given thousands of 9/11rescue and recovery workers more time to join a legal settlementthat would pay millions of dollars to people sickened by dust fromthe World Trade Center, if enough of them agree to the deal.

Men and women who participated in the Ground Zero cleanupinitially had until the end of the day Monday to decide whether tojoin a deal that would pay at least $625 million to people whodeveloped illnesses after working in the rubble.

But after a "huge influx" of people filed paperwork related tothe settlement in the days before the deadline, lawyersrepresenting the city agreed to extend the deadline for anotherweek. Workers will have until Nov. 16 to sign on, U.S. DistrictJudge Alvin Hellerstein decided.

The deal, struck in the spring, remains tentative. Under itsterms, the settlement only takes effect if at least 95 percent ofthe workers agree to sign on.

A lawyer for about 9,000 of the workers, Paul Napoli, told TheAssociated Press on Friday that the plaintiffs were very close tohitting that target, but the final results may not be known fordays. Related settlements could raise the total compensation forthe workers to as much as $815 million.

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