The airlines whose planes were flown into the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, should pay billions in compensation to the owner of the Twin Towers, according to testimony in federal court in New York on Tuesday.
Larry Silverstein, owner of World Trade Center Properties, is seeking $3.5 billion from United Airlines, US Airways and American Airlines, even though he already has been paid nearly $5 billion from his insurance company because of the attacks.
U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein in Manhattan is hearing arguments before ruling on whether World Trade Center Properties can sue the airlines, the Daily Mail of London reports.
Arguments began on Monday and a ruling is expected this week.
More than 2,750 people died in the attacks on the World Trade Center. Two of the four passenger airliners hijacked by al-Qaida terrorists crashed into the complex.
Both structures fell within two hours, causing partial or complete collapse of all other buildings in the complex, as well as major damage to 10 other large surrounding buildings.
In their opening statement, Silverstein’s lawyers contended that the funds already received did not preclude them from separately pursuing damages against the airline companies.
Richard Williamson, who represents World Trade Center Properties, said that accounting and construction experts had assessed damages of at least $7.2 billion from the 9/11 attacks.
One World Trade Center, which topped out earlier this year and became the tallest building in the western hemisphere at 1,776 feet, cost an estimated $3.9 billion, the Mail reports. It is scheduled to open in early next year.
But Roger Podesta, an attorney representing the airlines, said the $3.5 billion being sought for the destruction of the Twin Towers and a third skyscraper would amount to double compensation.
He said an $8.5 billion total recovery would be more than 2 1/2 times the fair value of the buildings that fell, the Mail reports.
Silverstein’s attorneys said it had cost more than $7 billion to replace the towers and more than $1 billion to replace the third WTC building that fell.
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