NEW YORK (CBS 2/1010 WINS) — Monday night at 11:59 p.m. is the deadline for thousands of ground zero first responders — who must decide whether to sign on to a settlement deal with the New York City.
Judge Alvin Hellerstein issued an order late Monday setting a new Thursday deadline for the amount of time allotted to file the paperwork and necessary documents to the firm handling the settlement. The plaintiffs still had to decide whether to be a part of the settlement by the end of Monday.
“I went to the doctor, but I don’t have enough money to pay the bills,” first responder Kalvin Satoo told CBS 2’s Kathryn Brown.
The settlement could total $815 million spread out across more than 10,000 emergency workers who have filed claims, depending on the severity of their illness.
Some would get thousands, while others would get millions.
However, choosing whether to sign the deal has been a gut-wrenching decision for thousands of first responders who are effectively giving up their right to sue later.
A multi-million dollar settlement won’t give 9/11 first responders their health back, but it may ease some of the financial strain they’ve been facing for more than nine years.
“I want to move on. It’s been nine long years and I want to put this behind me,” first responder Glen Klein said.
Klein decided to go ahead and do it, but said it wasn’t easy.
“I take the settlement now and I get sick down the road I don’t know if there will be any money left. I have three children I gotta get through school,” Klein said.
According to a deal worked out with all sides and signed by a judge, 95 percent of first responders who have filed claims against the city must sign on to the deal by midnight Monday or it is off the table for good.
Attorney Paul Napoli represents the first responders.
“If more than 95 percent participate, if 100 percent participate, or anywhere in between there we could get an additional $64.5 million in settlement,” Napoli said.
Napoli said the Zadroga Health Care Bill is a major factor. Those who agree to the settlement will be eligible for a share on the $7.4 billion in federal health care coverage — if the bill is approved by Congress.
Those who decide the opt-out will not.
Right now an estimated 92 percent of first responders have signed on to the settlement deal.