WTC Developer: American Airlines Going Back on 9/11 Promise

Thursday, 21 Feb 2013 01:11 PM

By Dale Eisinger

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Developer Larry Silverstein, the lease-holder for the World Trade Center, has slammed American Airlines in court papers for calling the 9/11 attack "an act of war" to avoid liability, asserting the airline's move was a “shameful display of duplicity."

Court papers obtained by the New York Daily News show that Silverstein said the airline and its parent company promised they would not use the defense to avoid paying property damage claims after the 9/11 attack.

However, Silverstein said officials went back on their promise, prompting his lawsuit. Silverstein filed the papers in Manhattan Federal Court to persuade the judge to dismiss the "act of war" defense.

"Now, having obtained many billions of dollars in taxpayer-funded benefits from a massive federal bailout, which benefits continue to accrue, they have reversed course, asserting with breathtaking cynicism a supposed distinction — but one without a difference — between an act of war exclusion and an act of war defense," Silverstein's attorney Richard Williamson said in the suit.

In 2002, Silverstein Properties, the real estate company Silverstein founded with his father, sued American Airlines and United Airlines. Silverstein alleged the airlines' negligence led to the destruction of the Twin Towers.

In September 2012, Manhattan Federal Court Judge Alvin Hellerstein let the case move forward and recommended Silverstein Properties seek $2.8 billion in damages.

“This court can and should put an end to this charade,” Williamson wrote of the "act of war" defense.

After terrorist attacks brought the towers down, Silverstein settled for $4 billion with insurers. He had obtained insurance policies on July 5, 2001, months before the day of the attack.

In 2002, ground was broken at Ground Zero to signify the start of the Freedom Tower's construction, the building that would take the place of the twin towers. However, construction did not begin until 2006.

The new building that is 1,776 feet tall. In December, the crowning 408-foot spire of the building was placed on top of the 104-story skyscraper, making it the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere.

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