NY judge: New 9/11 health pact 'very good' deal

The judge overseeing a lawsuit by thousands ofground zero workers exposed to World Trade Center dust has called aproposed new settlement "a very good deal."

U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein has signed an order givingpreliminary approval to the settlement, clearing the way for apublic hearing later this month. Ninety-five percent of theplaintiffs must sign off on the deal for it to be final.

In March, Hellerstein rejected an initial settlement between thecity and workers. He called the $575 million to $657 million dealtoo stingy for the most seriously ill responders and too rich forlawyers.

The new deal raises the amount of the settlement to $625 millionto $712 million and reduces the fees lawyers would collect fromone-third to one-fourth of the settlement.

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