Supreme Court won't review 1993 WTC bombing liability case

WASHINGTON Mon Oct 1, 2012 1:30pm EDT

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Supreme Court on Monday let stand a lower court's finding that the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey was not legally responsible for failing to prevent a 1993 truck bombing in the World Trade Center's parking garage.

Without comment, the justices rejected an appeal by Antonio Ruiz, a man injured in the blast, who accused the Port Authority of failing to provide adequate security in the garage.

The question before the court was whether the Port Authority, which operated the Trade Center, was acting as a government agency or a private landlord with respect to its security at the complex. State law provides immunity for government agencies against most negligence cases.

New York State's highest court had found in 2011 that the agency was entitled to government immunity because security for the Trade Center, which was open to the public, was akin to a public police force.

That decision reversed lower court rulings that the Port Authority was acting as a private landlord because the Trade Center was largely a commercial complex.

The February 1993 bombing, in which two men drove a rental van packed with explosives into a public parking garage below the towers, killed six people and injured close to 1,000.

Six men were convicted for the attack, including alleged mastermind Ramzi Yousef, who had ties to al Qaeda. More than 600 people filed 174 lawsuits in the wake of the bombing, but most of those claims have been settled out of court.

Seth Waxman, a lawyer for Ruiz, was not immediately available for comment.

A lawyer for the Port Authority did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

(Reporting By Terry Baynes and Jonathan Stempel; Editing by Doina Chiacu)

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