As the 11th anniversary of the September 11 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States ebbs closer, it is an event etched in the minds of the majority of Americans. On 9/11/01 we watched in horror as hijacked United Airlines Boeing 767-222 and American Airlines 767-223 aircraft flew into the World Trade Center, the images burned into our minds. This event was a shock to our collective system with the number of lives lost, it shattered our sense of security, sent us to war, sent the airline industry into financial ruin … and it also taught many the bond that collectively tie us together.
The tragedy of 9/11/01dealt the United States a massive economic blow, impacting individual people, small business, airlines and large corporations … including World Trade Center Properties, and its related entities, which has purchased 99 year leases to four of the World Trade Center buildings for US$3.25bil in July 2001. Following the September 11 2001 terrorist attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center, World Trade Center Properties, received a US$4.091-billion insurance payout to compensate for their losses.
There are many twists and turns in the monies World Trade Center Properties is seeking as a result of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. The company’s four buildings held a 12-Layer insurance policy, inked less then two months prior to the destruction of the World Trade Center, in Lower Manhattan, that covered multiple companies with a cash pay out of US$3.5-billion per occurrence, on four separate properties in the event of a terrorist attack. The total pay out for the destruction of the World Trade Center should have been US$14bil, however the cash payout from the insurance claims was US$4.091 billion.
Not satisfied with the insurance claim of US$4.091-billion, on a three month old US$3.5-billion investment, in 2008 World Trade Center Properties filed a law suit against both United Airlines and American Airlines, 21-MC-101, US District Court, Southern District of New York, citing negligence that the airlines allowed the terrorists to board their aircraft and hijack their aircraft. In this lawsuit, the company is seeking additional compensation for their losses, a combined US$2.805-billion from the airlines, down from the original US$12.8-billion amount they originally sought.
The reduced amount is due to U.S. District Court Judge Alvin Hellerstein capping the value of the claim at US$2.805-billion … a US$10-billion reduction from what World Trade Center Properties originally had sought.
I can write at length on the twists and turns of the World Trade Center Properties law suits, insurance policies, other related suits, monies they are seeking that can’t be proven to go to the projects they claim they need the money for, or that the CEO of the parent company is believed to have been seeking a way to cash in the insurance policies prior the terrorist attacks … but I will stick to the airlines, and to the facts.
The fact of the matter is this … neither airline can be blamed for negligence.
Getting past the emotional aspects of the airlines having lost their crews and their aircraft, leaving deep emotional and financial scars, the facts are that the terrorists who boarded the flights on the morning of September 11 2001 were not on any lists known to the airlines, as a no-fly list was not in place prior to the terrorist attacks.
There is the argument that airlines allowed the hijackers to board with weapons, and airlines and airports hired the private security contract firms. The fact is, that all reports show the hijackers took control of the aircraft using items that were not considered contraband from being carried onto a commercial flight.
After four years of back and forth between World Trade Center Properties and the airlines, US District Court Judge Alvin Hellerstein has now ruled this case must go to trial so the claims can be made with “reasonable certainty.” If ever there was a civil suit with reasonable doubt, this is the case.
There is nothing the airlines could have done to prevent the hijackings of these aircraft. Should World Trade Center Properties be seeking to claim negligence, it needs to look elsewhere.
Who should they blame, if they feel the need to file such a civil law suit? Start with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Airline cockpit doors were not reinforced. While airlines were very public about reinforcing doors after September 11 2001, under the creation of the Sky Marshal Program, developed by President John F. Kennedy, he insisted that every commercial flight securely lock its flight deck door in flight, and the doors be strong enough to prevent forcible entry from the outside. It was the FAA’s job to have enforced this since 1961 … forty years before the enforcement of airlines securing and protecting their flight deck doors by the FAA.
Who else could be blamed for the hijackers boarding the flights on the morning of September 11th 2001? How about the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), National Security Agency (NSA) and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). All of these agencies were aware of terrorists involved in the hijackings, but due to multiple inter-agency communications failures, and turf wars, information was not shared. In fact, multiple reports show that the NSA was aware the terrorist has entered the United States and failed to share this information. This information was later omitted from 9/11 Commission Reports and not made public until early 2008, although the NSA has been wire-tapping mobile phones used directly by Osama bin Laden beginning in 1996, then largely keeping that information to its self, requiring other agencies it should have been supporting to find their own information with their own resources.
It is unfathomable that World Trade Center Properties could seek financial compensation from United Airlines and American Airlines. It is nearly impossible to convince a jury that these airlines are guilty of anything other than being victims of hijackings and the start of a new kind of terrorism.