Federal Appeals Court Lets Sept. 11 Cases Proceed Against NYC

Friday, October 5th 2007, 7:02 pm
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) _ A federal appeals panel on Friday agreed that lawyers can resume their work on behalf of thousands of workers who say they were not properly protected as they cleaned up the World Trade Center site after the 2001 terrorist attacks.

The legal work had temporarily stopped while lawyers for New York City and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey asked the court to give them immunity from nearly 8,000 workers' claims.

A three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said it had not yet decided the immunity issue, but lawyers could resume gathering evidence for trials that might be years away.

``On balance, we conclude that the public interest favors permitting pretrial proceedings to resume, thereby hastening the trial that might result in compensation for at least some plaintiffs during their lifetime,'' the panel wrote.

The appeals panel also wrote that ``there is now a lesser probability than might have previously appeared'' that the city and Port Authority, which owns the trade center site, will succeed in preventing at least some of the plaintiffs' claims from moving forward.

A message left with the city law office for comment Friday was not immediately returned.

Lawyers said it appeared it could take three to four more years for the lawsuits to reach trial.

Last year, U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein ruled that the defendants were immune for actions taken immediately after the terrorist attack, but not for the entire nine-month cleanup of the site.