Judge Rules Claims Against Airlines For 9/11 Attacks Can Go To Trial
A New York Federal District Court Judge has ruled that a lawsuit against American Airlines and United Airlines by the leaseholders to the buildings at the World Trade Center on September 11th can go to trial:
A U.S. judge ruled that AMR Corp’s American Airlines and United Continental Holdings Inc must face trial over claims relating to the September 11 attacks that destroyed the landmark towers of the World Trade Center in New York almost 11 years ago, court documents showed.
In July 2001, two months before the attacks, World Trade Center Properties LLC (WTCP) bought 99-year leases to four World Trade Center buildings from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Inc for $2.805 billion.
In its lawsuit against United Airlines and American Airlines, WTCP said that had it not been for the airlines’ negligence, “the terrorists could not have boarded and hijacked the aircraft and flown them into the twin towers,” on September 11, 2001, according a New York court filing.
The company claimed damages of $8.4 billion from the airlines, the estimated cost of replacing the towers.
Judge Alvin Hellerstein limited the value of WTCP’s destroyed property to $2.805 billion, the price WTCP paid for the leases.
The defendants denied they were negligent, and said the case should not go to trial because WTCP has recovered $4.091 billion from insurance companies.
Without knowing more about the current status of the litigation, and several quick Google searches have not yielded a plethora of updated information (some sites haven’t been updated since 2004), the one odd thing that strikes me is the idea that the airlines are responsible for security. Even before 9/11, security screening was covered by airports, not airlines. Of course, since the airports involved here are all owned and operated by quasi-government entities, there’s likely some sovereign immunity issue that prevents them from being held liable. In any event, I would expect these cases to be settled at some point if only because neither United nor American are likely to be in a position to pay nearly three billion dollars in damages.