American and United Settle 9/11 Negligence Suit for $95 Million

United and American settled a lawsuit with the developer of the World Trade Center where Silverstein Properties will receive $95.2 million.

Silverstein has received several billion dollars from insurers to rebuild. He wanted to hold American and United responsible for their alleged negligence in failing to prevent the Twin Towers’ destruction by their hijacked planes.

This story was noted by One Mile at a Time suggests who suggests while airline culpability seems a stretch, “the airline industry on the whole may have been a bit negligent… [a]irlines could have certainly introduced reinforced cockpit doors earlier and could have also improved security..”

I don’t think that’s right. Recall that before 9/11 the model for hijackings was negotiation. Hijackers generally wanted something in return for safe return of passengers and aircraft. They might want to be flown somewhere and given money. There simply wasn’t a history of terrorists using airplanes as missiles to destroy buildings.

Past threats to aviation saw new security procedures which, like the TSA, were mostly for show. Even post-9/11 security measures beyond reinforced cockpit doors and an expectation on the part of passengers to fight back don’t make us safer after all the TSA has for decades failed to detect dangerous items going through the checkpoint at a rate over 80% in consistent results from internal testing.

We’ve been safe in the skies according to the TSA itself because for years terrorists simply haven’t targeted planes.

So what’s the logic of the settlement? Simple: “Insurers will cover the payout” in fact the settlement “would have totaled $97 million had two of American’s and United’s insurers not become insolvent.”

The lawsuit advanced far enough after more than a decade that insurers were willing to pay, and the settlement an amount low enough that payment in full would come from insurers.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. The twin towers had been targeted by terrorists in the past, therefore Silverstein was knowingly operating dangerous office towers without taking due precautions like installing airplane-proof netting around both buildings or placing several thousand parachutes in the stairwells of each tower.

    Following his own logic, HE is the one that should be sued for the entire cost of NYC rescue efforts and reconstruction expenses for all of lower Manhattan.

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