Federal appeals court allows 9-11 suit against NY-NJ Port Authority

The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on June 21 permitted a lawsuit against the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) arising out of the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 to proceed. An electrical substation at the base of 7 World Trade Center (7 WTC) was destroyed when the building collapsed during the aftermath of the 9-11 terror attack. The substation was operated by Con Edison, a company that leased property from the Port Authority. Con Edison brought the action against PANYNJ for negligence in construction and design and breach of contract in 2002, arguing that the diesel fuel tanks PANYNJ had improperly allowed its tenants to use accelerated the building’s collapse.

The US District Court for the Southern District of New York granted summary judgment to PANYNJ, and Con Edison appealed. The appeals court reversed the lower court decision, indicating Con Edison’s negligence claim was proper because it arose out of the Port Authority’s “independent duty, as owner of the leased premises, to exercise reasonable care to avoid damage to persons or property thereon.” The appeals court did, however, agree with the lower court’s ruling that the lease agreement between the two companies provided only for no-fault reimbursement related to damage caused by active construction or maintenance of the building. The appeals court remanded the negligence claim for further consistent proceedings.

PANYNJ is also battling a lawsuit related to a separate terror attack. In June, PANYNJ argued in an appeal before the New York Court of Appeals that they were not liable for negligence in the 1993 WTC attacks. The Port Authority seeks to overturn the 2008 decision that upheld a 2005 jury verdict apportioning 68% of the fault to the Port Authority and 32% to the terrorists who committed the attack. The 1993 bombing of the WTC by Islamic radicals killed six and injured 1,000 through a car bomb placed in the basement parking garage. Five men were captured and sentenced to life in prison for the attack. After the bombing, 648 plaintiffs filed 174 negligence actions against the Port Authority for “alleged breach of its proprietary duty to maintain its premises in a reasonably safe condition.” Negligence was assessed against the Port Authority after documents revealed that the WTC garage had been ignoring safety fears since 1984. The Port Authority police superintendent, at the time, stated the parking areas “[we]re accessible to the public and are highly susceptible to car bombings.”

From Jurist, June 22. Used with permission.

See our last post on the politics of 9-11.

  1. 7 WTC collapse: not so mysterious after all?
    One of the points to emerge in this case is that there was not just one but at least two emergency diesel generators at 7 WTC. We all heard about the one Giuliani had built for his “command bunker” (the 23rd floor of a skyscraper in a complex that had already been targeted by terrorists being a really brilliant place for a “command bunker”), but now it appears that at least one private tenant pulled the same stunt. From New York Law Journal, June 22:

    Con Edison and its subrogee, Aegis, allege the fire raged out of control because of the fuel tanks the Port Authority allowed to be installed in 1987 by its primary tenant, Salomon Brothers investment bank, and in 1996, when New York City signed a lease to house its Office of Emergency Management command center and installed a diesel fuel tank and generator.

    Maybe now the conspiranoiacs will start to rethink the supposed “impossibility” of 7 WTC collapsing due to fuel tanks in the building exploding?

    1. 7 WTC collapse: not so mysterious after all?
      If WTC7 came down due to fuel tanks in the building exploding then the demolition companies should be told, for with this knowledge, they will save considerable resources whenever they demolish similar buildings.

        1. Bldg 7
          Nano thermite on every steel section, every floor, so that the collapse reaches freefall speed, and an oh so clean landing- all that gets a premium rate.

          The hi-tech explosive’s R&D costs plus the intensive labor by the ‘elevator workers’ in the summer of 2001 would make the discovery that diesel or kerosene oil fires on three floors out of 47 could work the same result a game changer in the demo business.

          1. Here we go with the nano thermite again
            Where is your documentation for the “nano thermite on every steel section”? I’m waiting.

            Now here is my documentation for the fact that, contrary to relentless harping of the “Truthies,” the Twin Towers did not fall at freefall speed. The Civil Engineering Department at MIT concluded:

            As the joists on one or two of the most heavily burned floors gave way and the outer box columns began to bow outward, the floors above them also fell. The floor below (with its 1,300 t design capacity) could not support the roughly 45,000 t of ten floors (or more) above crashing down on these angle clips. This started the domino effect that caused the buildings to collapse within ten seconds, hitting bottom with an estimated speed of 200 km per hour. If it had been free fall, with no restraint, the collapse would have only taken eight seconds and would have impacted at 300 km/h.

            This after the Truthies were harping for years that the towers fell at “freefall” speed. Now what about building 7? Let’s read the fine print, shall we? If you go to even the Truthie websites that actually deign to quote the NIST report, you will find that building 7 was in freefall for 2.25 seconds. If you would then bother to check out what your critics at Debunking 9-11 Conspiracy Theories have documented from the NIST study, you would find that the collapse took a total of 18 seconds. In other words, the effect is entirely consistent with lower sections of the building giving way first due to fires that had been allowed to rage out of control for hours, leaving upper sections in freefall for literally less time than it takes to tell.

            Now, when you can find someone in the demolition industry who thinks that installing fuel tanks and letting them burn for hours would be a more cost-effective method of bringing down skyscrapers than planted explosive charges, I will entertain your claims. Until then, you are not invited to respond. Go home and do your homework.

            1. The reptilian connection
              The technology required to bring down the WTC from space is consistent with the technology used by Mossad, under orders from the Swedes, to destroy Area 51. There is only one race on Earth that possesses this technology and they are not human.

              1. Beware the reptilian “false flag” lie!
                Stop! Stop!! Stop!!! The “reptilian connection” is a false flag operation to hide the true Ichthyoid Agenda! Don’t be a dupe of Tuetonic Knights disunderestimation of the real conspiracy!

            2. Truthiness

              First time a fire that took down a building but did not produce flames or smoke, I gotta say.

              Hey, first time a fire brought down a steel framed skyscraper!! 

              And the perfect symmetry of the collapse, well, that defies odds, too!!

              1. Truthiness Movement strikes again
                Whoops, just shot down the “freefall” collapse, so let’s throw some other glop at the wall to see if it sticks, eh?

                Have you even been to the Debunking 9-11 Conspiracy Theories page to see the photo of smoke pouring out of WTC 7—the other side of the building, that the conspiracy websites don’t show you?

                Yes, skyscrapers collapse when left to burn, as has been demonstrated

                The same malarky over and over. Will you guys please shut up already?

                1. it’s also worth pointing out
                  it’s also worth pointing out that the building had huge tanks of diesel on the 6th floor to supply massive emergency generators for the substation it was built on top of, providing plenty of fuel to hasten the collapse, and a cavern underneath the building to collapse in to.

  2. PA not liable for 1993 WTC bombing
    The New York State Court of Appeals ruled Sept. 22 that the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is not liable for the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center on grounds of governmental immunity. The plaintiffs argued that the operation of the parking garage was more akin to a proprietary, rather than governmental, function and thus immunity should not apply. The court disagreed, stating that “[a]ny failure to secure the parking garage against terrorist attack predominantly derives from a failed allocation of police resources” and thus is considered to be a governmental function. (Jurist, Sept. 22)

  3. Court grants judgment against 9-11 negligence claim

    A judge for the US District Court for the Southern District of New York on Nov. 21 granted a motion by several Airlines for summary judgment in a negligence claim stemming from the 9-11 terrorist attack negligence claim. Lessee of 7 World Trade Center (Tower 7), which collapsed from the flaming debris resulting out of the crash of Flight 11 into the 1 World Trade Center, sued several defendants including United Airlines and American Airlines arguing that they were responsible for the collapse of Tower 7. The plaintiff in this case claimed that "United had a legal duty and a clear chance to prevent the hijacking of American Airlines Flight 11 when Atta and his accomplice passed through the Portland security checkpoint for which United has shared responsibility." However, District Judge Alvin Hellerstein, citing Palsgraf v. Long Island R.R. Co., held that United did not owe duty of care to the plaintiff because:

    It was not within United's range of apprehension that terrorists would slip through the PWM security screening checkpoint, fly to Logan, proceed through another air carrier's security screening and board that air carrier's flight, hijack the flight and crash it into I World Trade Center, let alone that 1 World Trade Center would therefore collapse and cause Tower 7 to collapse.

    The Lessee stated that he will continue to pursue claims against United concerning Flight 175, which crashed into 2 World Trade Center.

    From Jurist, Nov. 21. Used with permission.

  4. Appeals court releases WTC 7 developer from liability

    The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled (PDF) Dec. 4 that developers of the 7 World Trade Center (7WTC) Building were not liable for the damages caused by the collapse of the 7WTC several hours after the twin towers were destroyed in the 9-11 terrorist attack. The owner of the electrical substation that was destroyed during the collapse sued the defendants for negligence. In the 2-1 decision, the Second Circuit affirmed the decision of the US District Court for the Southern District of New York, which dismissed the case but on a different ground. The court held that even if there was negligence on part of the defendants, it was not the cause-in-fact of 7WTC's collapse. Although defendants owed the plaintiff a duty of care, the court reasoned that "given the unprecedented nature and sheer magnitude of the events of September 11, the alleged negligence on the part of defendants was not the cause-in-fact of the collapse of 7WTC." The court rejected plaintiff's argument that different designs could have prevented the collapse, reasoning that "[i]t is simply incompatible with common sense and experience to hold that defendants were required to design and construct a building that would survive the events of September 11, 2001."


    From Jurist, Dec. 6. Used with permission.