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An Associated Press report pointed to a ruling from the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that said officials from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) could not be held constitutionally liable for making positive statements about air quality in New York City just after the 9/11 attacks.

This ruling could pose hurdles for other lawsuits underway regarding World Trade Center illness and air quality in the area in the days and weeks following the World Trade Center collapse.

The AP article further reports:

The opinion, written by the court’s chief judge, Dennis Jacobs, said opening EPA workers up to lawsuits for giving out bad information during a crisis could have a catastrophic side effect.

“Officials might default to silence in the face of the public’s urgent need for information,” Jacobs wrote.

The ruling, filed Thursday, applied only to a suit brought by five government employees who did rescue and cleanup work at ground zero, but it contained language suggesting that similar legal claims could face trouble.

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