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Federal judge rules airlines must stand trial for 9/11 negligence claim

A federal judge ruled Tuesday that American Airlines and United Continental Holdings must stand trial to defend against a claim by World Trade Center Properties (WTCP), the owners of the World Trade Center towers, who claim that the negligence of the airlines allowed the hijackers aboard the planes which eventually destroyed the towers on 9/11 [JURIST backgrounder]. Judge Alvin Hellerstein of the US District Court for the Southern District of New York [official website] denied a motion [opinion] from United Airlines, American Airlines and others which claimed that the airlines should not be required to go to trial as WTCP already recovered from insurance companies.

In 2007 a $4.09 billion settlement was reached [JURIST report] between insurance companies and WTCP. WTCP was seeking damages from the airlines in the range of $8.4 billion, which they estimate would be the cost of replacing the two towers. The judge in this case has limited to their earnings to the "lesser of fair market value or replacement cost" of the towers which he has put at $2.805 billion—the price WTCO agreed to pay the for the lease for the towers two months prior to the 9/11 attack.

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