John Hudock is annoyed:

A federal judge ruled that lawsuits from victims families may proceed against the airlines, airplane manufacturers, and Port Authority (which owned the World Trade Center). Now I can see how you might make a reasonable case against the airlines for negligent security procedures, but what possible case can you make against Boeing? The article cites ‘negligent plane design’. Does that mean they expect Boeing to design planes that don’t explode when you fly them into buildings? Likewise for the Port Authority lawsuit, were the buildings negilgently designed because they couldn’t withstand two large jumbo jets flying into them? I was amazed they stood as long as they did. There was no indication that Al Qaeda or the Taliban were named in the suit.

My understanding, based solely on an NPR report this morning, is that the plaintiffs contend that Boeing should have made the plane more hijack proof, including making the cockpit doors more secure, because the ability of hijackers to take over a plane has been apparent for decades. This strikes me as silly, but a judge’s only role here is to decide if there is a legal/factual basis for a suit. There likely is. A jury gets to decide the actual merits.

My guess is the fact that the Taliban has largely been wiped out and that al Qaeda is a terrorist group unlikely to honor a subpoena–making neither of them particularly lucrative defendants–has something to do with why they weren’t named.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Matthew says:

    Regarding the rationale of this lawsuit, I’m not entirely certain that the cockpit doors were forced open in the first place. What if the hijackers held a box-cutter to a stewardess’ throat and made her tell the pilots to open the cockpit door or else they’d kill her? You could have vault doors on the cockpit and it wouldn’t matter if the pilots opened the door to save a life.

  2. James Joyner says:

    Certainly true. But, again, that’s for a jury to sort out. Frankly, I’d throw most lawsuits out if it were up to me. But judges don’t really have that latitude if I understand the system correctly.