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Judge to mull if airlines owe WTC owners over 9/11

By Larry Neumeister

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 08:19 a.m. HST, Jul 13, 2013

NEW YORK » A judge who has presided over most of the litigation stemming from the Sept. 11 attacks will decide whether the owners of the World Trade Center can try to make aviation companies pay billions of dollars in damages.

U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein said he will announce his decision immediately after hearing several witnesses and listening to arguments in a nonjury trial starting Monday and expected to last three days.

The trial will decide whether World Trade Center Properties and its affiliates can receive more than the $4.9 billion in insurance proceeds they have already recovered since the 9/11 attacks by terrorists who hijacked commercial airliners and flew them into the 110-story twin towers. The attacks led to the destruction of the towers as well as a third trade center building.

If the judge should decide that the World Trade Center owners were entitled to additional money, a liability trial might occur. The defendants include American Airlines Inc., AMR Corp., United Airlines Inc., US Airways Inc., Colgan Air Inc., Boeing Co. and the Massachusetts Port Authority, among others.

The airlines and other aviation-related companies were sued with the reasoning that they were negligent, allowing terrorists to board airplanes and overtake their crews before plunging the planes into the trade center complex, destroying three buildings.

Hellerstein has already said the maximum the trade center owners could recover from aviation defendants would be $3.5 billion. The trade center owners say it has cost more than $7 billion to replace the twin towers and more than $1 billion to replace the third trade center building that fell.

In court papers, both sides have accused the other of unfairly characterizing their claims, with the aviation defendants saying the trade center owners were being "absurd" and the complex's owners labeling some of the aviation defendants' arguments as "nonsense."

The aviation defendants say Hellerstein should conclude that the trade center owners are entitled to no award because they've already been reimbursed by insurance companies for the same damage they are trying to force aviation defendants to pay for as well. They also note that the replacement buildings are more modern and fancy than the original buildings.

Of the 7 World Trade Center building — the first to be rebuilt after the attacks — the lawyers wrote that the trade center owners "built a new, state of the art 'green' building that bears little resemblance to the office building that collapsed as a result of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks."

They said they plan to call only two witnesses: an expert on law and economics and an expert in the adjustment of insurance claims. Additional evidence they will introduce will include leases, insurance policies, proof of loss, communications between trade center leaseholders and their insurers, and financial statements.

In their court papers, the trade center's owners insist that recovering money from aviation defendants would not result in a "double recovery" because of the billions they've already received from insurers. And they note that their rebuilding costs "far exceed" what they've received from insurers.

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allie wrote:
yikes! Why not sue Bush and his silly administration for ignoring the warnings of an imminent attack in the summer of 2001. We now know Bush knew a lot more than he then claimed.
on July 13,2013 | 08:28AM
chryw8 wrote:
i agree wholeheartedly with the uh freshman from south (north?) dakota. dubya is crazy, cheney is crazy evil.
on July 13,2013 | 10:07AM
palani wrote:
Disagree, >b>allie. Only 9/11 truthers subscribe to the theory that our government was somehow complicit in the islamic terrorist attack. Did you forget about the first World Trade Center bombing under Clinton (prosecuted in criminal court), as well as that President's failure to apprehend Bin Laden when given the opportunity by Sudanese authorities?

The very idea of greedy lawyers suing the airlines is insulting to attorneys with integrity. Any wonder why their profession is held in such low regard?

on July 13,2013 | 10:31AM
OldDiver wrote:
The Sudanese story was debunked years ago as a Fox News phony smear.
on July 13,2013 | 11:44AM
palani wrote:
Get real.
on July 13,2013 | 01:36PM
palani wrote:
Clarifying, the story was never debunked as a Fox News smear, but there are conflicting accounts, according to factcheck.org. Clinton's own statements are contradictory, which should surprise no one, given his aversion to the truth. Also, who checks the self-appointed "fact checkers"?

Clinton: So we tried to be quite aggressive with them [al Qaeda]. We got – well, Mr. bin Laden used to live in Sudan. He was expelled from Saudi Arabia in 1991, then he went to Sudan. And we’d been hearing that the Sudanese wanted America to start dealing with them again. They released him. At the time, 1996, he had committed no crime against America, so I did not bring him here because we had no basis on which to hold him, though we knew he wanted to commit crimes against America. So I pleaded with the Saudis to take him, ’cause they could have. But they thought it was a hot potato and they didn’t and that’s how he wound up in Afghanistan.

Clinton later claimed to have misspoken and stated that there had never been an offer to turn over bin Laden.

My response to allie was to dispute her inference that any American President was complicit in the 9/11 attacks.


on July 13,2013 | 01:51PM
kainalu wrote:
BS! Saudi Arabia owes for those towers! Most of those terrorists were Saudis! More importantly, they've got the big buck$!
on July 13,2013 | 08:41AM
palani wrote:
Islamic terrorism transcends national boundaries, which is why this war is different from others. It is deeply rooted in ideology and culture, and will not be ended by regime change in one or more countries.
on July 13,2013 | 10:58AM
Surfer_Dude wrote:
MI SU YU, an attorney for the law firm of Dewey, Cheatum and Howe is taking time off from his pro bono case of suing KTVU in San Francisco to help with this lame case.
on July 13,2013 | 08:47AM
NanakuliBoss wrote:
Then the judge is going to mull over whether the airlines can sue the Feds on why a bunch of Saudis infiltrated the USA to commit this terrorist act. Which came first the chicken or the egg?
on July 13,2013 | 08:51AM
palani wrote:
Sounds like fair play to me.
on July 13,2013 | 10:33AM
Cantopop wrote:
As a nation whose hypocrisy has gone beyond belief and pride in the "rule-of-law" tradition while lecturing other nations they need to be more like the US has finally reached Boy That Cried Wolf status, I find this case to be the perfect last straw. So far. We are ruled by law...as written by corporations, special interests and lobbyists which are then introduced by bought and bribed politicians and enforced by the new police state with drones and staffed by former mercenary infantrymen instead of people that know the neighborhoods they grew up in. The laws only truly benefit the 1% and one would need a team of lawyers to stay in the 1% anyway. A cycle of lawyers feeding off each other for their survival. With a further erosion of understood basic rights, law will be the only thing and we know how the judges will rule. Rule of law forced Hawaii from the monarchy to the corporations...rule of law invaded Iraq...rule of law allowed Too Big To Fail banks to survive and thrive...rule of law allows companies and the 1% to hide all their money abroad while paying a joke of a tax rate and now rule of law allows this troll to bring forth a suit to decimate the American airline industry. Good...maybe he should win. That will open a few eyes in this country. It's early. Sorry for the rant...
on July 13,2013 | 09:41AM
palani wrote:
Yada, yada, yada.
on July 13,2013 | 10:34AM
Aieagrl wrote:
GREAT! A new f'n fee they can rob us with. The "9-11 recuperation fund".
on July 13,2013 | 10:30AM
entrkn wrote:
Silverstein owes New Yorkers and the rest of America billions for not re-building the twin towers.
on July 13,2013 | 02:02PM
nitpikker wrote:
only in america!! ridiculous!!
on July 13,2013 | 04:13PM
sailfish1 wrote:
Why don't they sue Osama bin Laden's estate, Al Qaeda, the Taliban, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq? In addition, what about Boeing, the flight schools who trained the terrorists, the States where the terrorists lived before 911, the Federal government who allowed the terrorists to come into the country, etc. While they're at it, sue the architects and builders of the WTC for not creating aircraft resistant buildings. And don't forget the flight attendants and passengers who did not overcome the terrorists and save the towers.
on July 13,2013 | 10:39PM
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