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Judge orders WTC renegotiation

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Judge orders WTC renegotiation
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NEW YORK (AP) -- A federal judge on Friday rejected a legal settlement that would have given at least $575 million to people sickened by ash and dust from the World Trade Center, saying the deal shortchanged 10,000 ground zero workers whom he called heroes.

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Rising from his chair, the 76-year-old jurist said he feared police officers, firefighters and other laborers who cleared rubble after the 9/11 terror attacks were being pushed into signing a deal few of them understood.

Under the terms of the settlement, workers had been given just 90 days to say yes or no to a deal that would have assigned them payments based on a point system that Hellerstein said was complicated enough to make a Talmudic scholar's head spin.

Of the proposed settlement of $575 million to $657 million, workers stood to get amounts ranging from a few thousand dollars to more than $1 million.

Hellerstein said the deal should be richer. Too much of it would be eaten up by legal fees, he said.

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