First 9/11 Responder Opts Out Of Mass Settlement - FOX 13 News

First 9/11 Responder Opts Out Of Mass Settlement


The first sickened 9/11 responder to file suit against New York city says he is opting out of a proposed mass settlement, the New York Post reported Sunday.

John Walcott, a retired NYPD detective diagnosed with leukemia in 2003, rejected the deal for 10,700 Ground Zero workers -- even though lawyers estimate he could get as much as $500,000.

Walcott, 46, has refused to sign on because the settlement does not guarantee that payment, or any at all.

"If nothing is concrete, there's really not a settlement," he said.

Walcott said he felt pressured to accept the uncertain sum rather than seek a trial to prove that burning jet fuel and other toxins triggered his blood cell cancer.

He said his lawyers told him the city has threatened that "whoever doesn't take it, we're going to pound you into the ground."

His comments come before Monday's deadline for at least 95 percent of the Ground Zero cops, firefighters, hardhats and other workers to accept the city's offer of $625 million, growing to $712.5 million if 100 percent sign on.

Plaintiffs who opt in must forever release the city from any liability for their illnesses.

They also must sign a statement acknowledging they may get less than estimated -- or possibly nothing -- after an outside firm reviews the records.

"I would have no recourse whatsoever if I'm not happy with it," said Walcott, a married dad who had a stem cell transplant and suffers painful side effects of chemotherapy.

The second responder to file suit, retired NYPD Detective Rich Volpe, said he, too, will opt out of an estimated payout up to $40,000 for his asthma and sleep apnea.

The settlement does not recognize kidney disease, which struck the former fitness buff in 2002 at age 34, as Ground Zero related.

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