Judge Blocks Claims Against Airlines Arising Out of Sept. 11th Attacks
It’s been nearly twelve years since the September 11th attacks, but there is still litigation going on regarding who’s responsible for the billions of dollars in damage inflicted that day. The most recent development comes out of New York, where a Federal Judge dismissed an effort by the owners of the World Trade Center to hold the airlines whose planes were involved in the attacks on the Twin Towers at least partly responsible for what happened that day:
The owners of the World Trade Center can’t demand billions of dollars more in insurance money for the destruction caused by the Sept. 11 attacks, a federal judge decided Thursday.
Judge Alvin Hellerstein ruled after hearing testimony by economic experts for the trade center owners and for the airlines linked to the planes that were hijacked in the attacks. The non-jury trial was held to decide whether the owners could collect more than the nearly $5 billion they’ve already received toward reconstruction
In ruling against developer Larry Silverstein and World Trade Center Properties, the judge cited state laws that bar “windfalls and double recovery on the same loss.”
The judge said that though he was ruling against the trade center owners, they deserved credit for spearheading the recovery effort at the 16-acre lower Manhattan site.
“You were dealt a very severe blow,” the judge said of the attack, which turned the trade center into an inferno and destroyed the twin towers. Since then, the developer’s workers have labored to “create beauty out the ashes of the destruction,” he added.
During the four-day proceeding, Silverstein’s attorneys had insisted that the aviation companies owed at least $3.5 billion for letting hijackers board planes that destroyed three skyscrapers on Sept. 11, 2001: the prominent twin towers and 7 World Trade Center, a 47-story building that caught fire after debris from one of the jet crashes pierced its facade and collapsed hours later.
In addition to disputing liability, the airlines, or more properly their insurance companies argued that the trade center owners would in effect be receiving a double recovery if they recovered from the airlines once you factored other sources of recovery already received in. Obviously, the Judge found this argument convincing.