Who Pays the Damages for Sept. 11? ; Lawyers Grapple with One of History's Most Complex Liability Cases

By Seth Stern writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, September 27, 2001 | Go to article overview

Who Pays the Damages for Sept. 11? ; Lawyers Grapple with One of History's Most Complex Liability Cases


Seth Stern writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


This time, the lawyers ran away from the ambulances.

One day after planes first hit the World Trade Center, the Association of Trial Lawyers of America urged attorneys to avoid bringing lawsuits related to the attacks.

But with thousands of casualties and tens of billions in damages at stake, neither victims nor lawyers who specialize in "mass torts" are likely to hold back for long.

"It won't continue," says Federal District Court Judge Jack Weinstein of the Eastern District of New York. "There's too much money."

Victims' families are already retaining attorneys who handled previous disasters, including the Pan Am Flight 103 explosion over Lockerbie, Scotland, and the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

This attack - with defendants ranging from airlines to a trail of terror suspects around the globe - promises to fuel some of the most complex litigation ever brought in the United States.

The first World Trade Center bombing killed six people, yet resulted in 500 lawsuits by 700 individuals, businesses, and insurance companies, asking for $500 million in damages, says Blair Fensterstock, lead attorney in the case. Eight years later, the case is still not finished.

In this instance, legal experts say the government must fashion faster recovery methods that ensure victims' families can collect quickly and the courts don't get clogged.

Last week, Congress voted to give victims or their families the choice of recovering from a pool of private insurance and government money administered by the Department of Justice or by suing in federal court in Manhattan.

Capping airlines' liability

American and United Airlines each had its liability capped at the level of insurance coverage held on the day the planes were hijacked. Taxpayers will pay the rest of the money paid out of the Department of Justice fund.

Families who opt for the fund will probably get money faster but will likely receive money under an undetermined formula based on each victim's income and insurance. Victims who go to court could recover more, but risk getting nothing if the airlines run out of insurance money or go bankrupt.

Even after the airlines' money is exhausted, a lengthy roster of potential defendants remains. Osama bin Laden and countries that support his network top the list. Federal law allows terrorist victims to recover from countries that support the terrorists. Provisions of the law provide for huge money judgments designed to deter future terrorist attacks.

Former hostages in Lebanon and the families of terrorist victims have won judgments totaling more than $1 billion against Iran. Former Beirut hostage Terry Anderson was awarded $340 million last year.

The US government gives plaintiffs cash for the compensatory damages while holding assets of terrorist sponsors as a deposit until the country actually pays up. Anderson collected $40 million from the US Treasury, which now holds the claim against Iran. The US now has the rights to the other $300 million. It is holding Iranian assets as a security deposit until it recovers funds from the government of Iran, but hasn't actually seized the assets.

The US State Department could quickly open the doors to additional suits by adding Afghanistan or other countries implicated to the list of states sponsoring terrorism, says attorney Stuart H. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Who Pays the Damages for Sept. 11? ; Lawyers Grapple with One of History's Most Complex Liability Cases
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.