By Julie Shapiro
BATTERY PARK CITY — Six hundred workers are suing the Battery Park City Authority for compensation for illnesses and injuries sustained while cleaning toxic debris from Battery Park City’s schools, offices and apartments after the 9/11 attacks.
And while the city is nearing a final settlement with about 10,000 workers, which would award them up to $712 million, the 600 Battery Park City cases are still far from resolved.
The Authority would not say how much money the plaintiffs are seeking, but based on the claims already made against the city, the number is likely in the millions of dollars. The workers include those who came to the neighborhood after 9/11 to clean the World Financial Center, Stuyvesant High School, P.S./I.S. 89 and apartment and condo buildings.
BPCA has already paid lawyers over $500,000 to defend the 9/11 cases, and on Tuesday the board approved spending an additional $250,000 on legal fees.
Nearly all of those workers were hired either by the city or the building owners, so those parties, not the Authority, should be responsible for the claims, said the BPCA's chief counsel, Alexandra Altman.
But so far, the city has been reluctant to even listen to the Authority’s concerns, Altman said. She said she has been e-mailing the city’s Law Department for two years, and the city’s lawyers only recently agreed to meet with them.
Now that the city is close to a settlement on the larger crop of 10,000 cases, Altman is hopeful the city will take on the Authority’s cases next.
A spokeswoman for the city Law Department declined to comment.
Altman said the BPCA has made headway with Brookfield Properties, owner of the World Financial Center, and Merrill Lynch, which leases office space there. Both Brookfield and Merrill have agreed to reimburse the Authority for legal costs.
The Authority also plans to seek reimbursement from Gateway Plaza, the neighborhood’s largest apartment complex, and individual condo buildings, Altman said.
Marc J. Bern, a senior partner at the law firm representing most of the 9/11 workers in the city case, said he has clients who are suing the Battery Park City Authority as well, but he declined to comment on those cases.