9/11 Settlement Close to Target, But Still Counting

It could be days before there's an accurate count of those opting into the 9/11 health settlement. Lawyers say they're close, but they need 95 percent of some 10,000 plaintiffs to opt in for the proposed settlement to hold. The deadline was Monday night at midnight.

After years of negotiating, private attorneys and the city have worked out an $712 million deal. Those sickened by work in and around the World Trade Center could receive anywhere from $2 thousand to $2 million each. Attorneys said they expect to have a tally within a couple days.

Earlier this year, the two sides announced a deal for up to $650 million, but it was rejected by a federal judge as not providing enough money to plaintiffs. US District Judge Alvin Hellerstein also said attorneys were taking too large a chunk out of the settlement. They later reduced their fees.

Hellerstein, Mayor Bloomberg and plaintiffs' attorneys have been strongly encouraging the plaintiffs to take the current deal. Accepting it would still leave open the possibility of receiving further federal support, if a $7 billion 9/11 health bill passes Congress. It has already been passed the House of Representatives, but its fate in the Senate is much more uncertain. Many Republicans argue it's too expensive and could provide costly health resources to tens of thousands of people, not all of whose conditions are attributable to the aftermath of the World Trade Center attacks.