NOTIZIARIO del 11/09/03


Il giudice permette che i processi del 9/11 procedano alla fase successiva
di Kirk Simple, New York Times del 10/09/03, sintesi in Italiano di Giulia Alliani per Bollettino Osservatorio.

Il sequestro e lo scontro degli aerei era un rischio che si sarebbe potuto prevedere- ha detto il giudice distrettuale Hellerstein della Federal District Court di Manhattan.

Anche se il disastro non si poteva prevedere, le linee aeree avevano il dovere di sottoporre a controlli i passeggeri per impedire possibili danni agli stessi, all'equipaggio, e alle vittime a terra.

American Airlines, United Airlines, Boeing, e l'Autorita' del Porto di new York e del New Jersey, proprietaria del WTC, avevano tentato di far sospendere i procedimenti, sostenendo che la loro responsabilita' era limitata alla protezione dei passeggeri e non delle persone uccise nel WTC o al Pentagono, perche' nessuno poteva prevedere che i sequestratori volessero dirigere gli apparecchi verso le Torri o il Pentagono.

Le vittime accusano di negligenza le linee aeree per non aver adottato misure di sicurezza adeguate.

La decisione del giudice Hellerstein non accerta nessun tipo di responsabilita', ma apre la via alla fase successiva dei processi, ed e' probabile che dia luogo a centinaia di nuove cause-

Judge Allows 9/11 Suits to Proceed

Negligent security procedures could have contributed to the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, a federal judge ruled today in a decision that allowed victims' families and those injured to proceed with their lawsuits against airlines, aircraft makers and the owners of the World Trade Center.

The hijacking and crashing of the planes was "a foreseeable risk," said United States District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein, who presided over the case, which was brought by 70 of the injured and representatives of those who died as well as by 10 entities that suffered property damage. While the crashes "may not have been foreseen," the judge continued, the airlines had the duty to screen passengers to prevent harm to passengers, crew and ground victims.

American Airlines, United Airlines, the Boeing Company and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the World Trade Center, had attempted to get the suits dismissed, arguing that their responsibilities were limited to protecting passengers - not people killed in the World Trade Center and the Pentagon - because they could not have known the hijackers would fly the planes into the towers, the Pentagon or the field near Shanksville, Pa. The defendants had also argued that they had followed safety measures established by the federal government and that any alleged negligence on their part was not the cause of the deaths and injuries.

The lawsuits have been filed in federal district court in Manhattan where, according to a law passed soon after the attacks, all suits for damages arising out of the hijacking and crashes must be brought. The plaintiffs charged that the airlines were negligent in failing to carry out adequate security measures.

They argued that the airlines are liable for the attacks because they failed to stop hijackers from entering the cockpits of the four hijacked planes. Boeing was sued for what the plaintiffs called negligent plane design. The plaintiffs also accused the owners and operator of the World Trade Center of negligently designing buildings without adequate evacuation routes. While Judge Hellerstein's ruling did not determine liability, it opened the door to the next stage of legal proceedings.

By allowing the suits to go forward, Judge Hellerstein opened the gates to a likely flood of hundreds of other lawsuits. The ruling is being widely watched by families who must choose whether to join the litigation or seek payment from a national compensation fund. The judge allowed victims' families to file lawsuits before a deadline last year but also allowed them to put the suits on hold until they made a final decision whether to proceed with litigation or apply to the federal Victim Compensation Fund.

The families involved in the lawsuit at issue in Judge Hellerstein's ruling gave up the right to apply for compensation from the fund. Likewise, families that apply to the fund surrender their right to sue. The most recent statistics show that 3,016 people died in the attacks at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and aboard the airliner that crashed in Pennsylvania.

Only about 1,240 death claims and 1,035 injury-compensation claims have been filed with the fund, which was created by Congress to provide financial aid to the families of those killed or injured in the attacks. The deadline for filing is Dec. 22. Late last month, the federally appointed lawyer who oversees the fund estimates that the fund had paid out about $623.1 million to date. The average payout so far has been about $1.5 million, with the highest award $6.8 million. The minimum payout is $250,000, The Associated Press reported.