Developer Sues to Win $12.3 Billion in 9/11 Attack
New York Times
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Larry A. Silverstein, who has won nearly $4.6 billion in insurance payments to cover his losses and help him rebuild at the World Trade Center site, is seeking $12.3 billion in damages from airlines and airport security companies for the 9/11 attack.
Mr. Silverstein, the developer of ground zero, sought the damages, whose amount was not previously known, in a claim filed in 2004, that says the airlines and airport security companies failed to prevent terrorists from hijacking the planes used to destroy the buildings.
His case was consolidated last week with similar, earlier lawsuits brought by families of some victims of the attack and by other property owners. But in seeking $12.3 billion, he is by far the biggest claimant in the litigation.
The size of Mr. Silversteins claim was revealed last week at a status conference on the litigation in United States District Court in Manhattan.
The claims by the parties involved total about $23 billion, and Mr. Silversteins claim for such a large chunk could jeopardize claims from other businesses and property owners, according to defense lawyers. A lawyer for the victims families, Donald Migliori, said he was confident that their claims would not be affected because they would take priority over the property claims.
A lawyer for the airlines, Desmond Barry, said that if Mr. Silverstein won his claim, he could push the total claims beyond the amount of insurance that the airlines and security companies have available. There aint that much insurance, Mr. Barry said.
The federal government has capped the liability at the amount of available insurance, to avoid bankrupting the airlines. The exact amount of insurance available is still being explored in the court proceedings.
Richard A. Williamson, a lawyer for Mr. Silverstein, said at the court conference on March 18 that Mr. Silverstein was seeking damages to compensate him for continuing losses at the site. Mr. Silverstein, through his company, World Trade Center Properties, has a 99-year lease, worth $3.2 billion, on four buildings at the site, including the fallen twin towers. He signed the lease in July 2001, just six weeks before the attack. http://www.prisonplanet.com/articles/march2008/270308_b_sues.htm