More Settlements for 9/11 Victim Lawsuits Announced
By Mike Stetzer
As the anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 came and went, more of those who felt the tragedy most closely, the families of those who died in the hijacked airplanes or World Trade Center, were finally able to receive closure on a legal issue related to their losses by reaching a settlement in their injury lawsuit with the airlines ,security companies, plane manufacturers and airport owners related to the hijacked planes a week before the first case was to go to trial.
The 14 cases that were settled came from families who chose not to partake in the 9/11 victims' compensation fund, which required that recipients waive their right to sue. These families believed that the fund did not adequately compensate certain classes of people, including children, retired people, and those with unusually-high incomes.
Additionally, the lawsuit brought by the families called the victims' compensation fund "inherently unfair," stating that the decision for compensation needed to be handled with better knowledge of the events of that day.
Currently, the 9/11 victims' compensation fund has distributed around $7 billion to those affected directly by the terrorist attacks.
The 14 settlements all involved United Airlines, of which six were from Flight 93, which crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and eight from Flight 175, the second plane to hit the World Trade Center.
According to Donald Migliori, the lawyer for the plaintiffs, the cases were advancing in a positive direction, as a judge had recently ruled that the jury could hear a recording from the cockpit of Flight 93 that contained sounds of the passengers trying to retake control of the plane before it crashed into the Pennsylvania field. The plaintiffs had hoped that the jury would hear the tape that provided evidence that the victims' last minutes were a heroic struggle.
The settlements just announced mean that 21 cases still remain of the 95 cases brought forth on behalf of 96 victims. No case has gone to trial yet; the first trial currently scheduled is for November 5 on behalf of Paul Ambrose, a passenger on American Airlines Flight 77, which crashed into the Pentagon.
The terms of the settlement were not disclosed, but attorneys for the lawsuits suggest that the settlement justified their reasons for seeking trial and not participating in the victims' compensation fund, both in terms of monetary compensation and answers to their lingering doubts and concerns over the losses of family members, as well as accountability for companies in some way responsible.
Migliori reported that more talks with victims filing lawsuits are currently under way, and he expects that more settlements will be arranged in the weeks leading up to the next trials. However, he said that he also expects that some families will not be content to settle, but will demand trials to find answers to questions about how terrorists were able to breach security and hijack the planes that held their loved ones.