Real estate developer Larry Silverstein was denied the right to seek $3.5 billion from airlines whose planes were hijacked by terrorists and flown into the World Trade Center’s twin towers on Sept. 11, 2001.
U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein issued the ruling today in Manhattan after hearing closing arguments on whether to allow Silverstein to pursue his claims.
Silverstein’s World Trade Center Properties LLC sued United Continental Holdings Inc., American Airlines and its parent AMR Corp., claiming their negligence led to the destruction of the towers.
The company argued that a previous $4.1 billion insurance payout shouldn’t bar it from seeking damages. The airlines argued that the developer’s losses were covered by insurance and he shouldn’t collect twice.
Silverstein’s lawyer Richard Williamson said the airlines “dramatically understate” the developer’s actual economic losses from the attack, including by using an arbitrary 2007 cutoff date for calculating lost rents.
“The plaintiffs will not end up with a windfall” if Silverstein wins the case, Williamson said in court, rejecting a claim made by the airlines.
“In my opinion, no one is enjoying a windfall — everyone is suffering from 9/11,” the judge said. Talking about a windfall “is obnoxious in this case,” he said.
The case is In Re September 11 Litigation, 21-mc-00101, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
With assistance from David M. Levitt in New York. Editors: Charles Carter, Glenn Holdcraft