(New throughout, adds statement from American, background on
By Joseph Ax
NEW YORK Dec 17 American Airlines Group Inc
and its insurers have agreed to pay $135 million to
Cantor Fitzgerald to settle the financial services company's
lawsuit over business and property losses suffered in the Sept.
11 attacks on the World Trade Center, in which 658 of its
employees were killed.
The settlement, which requires approval from U.S. District
Judge Alvin Hellerstein, averts a trial that had been scheduled
to begin next month and ends one of the final major pieces of
litigation stemming from the 2001 attacks.
John Stoviak, a lawyer for Cantor, disclosed the terms of
the settlement at a hearing on Tuesday in U.S. District Court in
New York before Hellerstein, who will consider approval at a
hearing on Jan. 13.
Hellerstein, who has overseen much of the litigation related
to the Sept. 11 attacks, took Tuesday's brief hearing as an
opportunity to reflect upon more than a decade of lawsuits.
Questions like how the United States should prevent attacks or
whether there was negligence involved, he said, may never be
"Perhaps that is proper," he said. "There's been no final
accounting. ... Hopefully, what is achieved is a measure of
justice, a measure of reparation and closure to what for many
people was a terrible tragedy."
Cantor lost nearly two-thirds of its roughly 1,000 local
employees after American Airlines Flight 11 struck the World
Trade Center's north tower, where the financial services company
had occupied the top floors. The attacks caused nearly 3,000
deaths in all.
"For the insurance companies, this was just another case,
just another settlement, but not for us," Cantor Chief Executive
Officer Howard Lutnick said in a statement. "For us, there is no
way to describe this compromise with inapt words like ordinary,
fair or reasonable. All we can say is that the legal formality
of this matter is over."
American said in a statement that the airline, its crew
members and its passengers were all victims of the attacks.
"American has vigorously defended itself in litigation
brought against it by property owners and their insurers who
allege that American should have done what the government could
not do - prevent the terrorist attacks," the statement added.
"Our insurers have agreed to settle the claims by Cantor
Fitzgerald. Although this settlement ends these particular legal
disputes, American will forever honor the memory of the true
victims and selfless heroes of 9/11."
In the lawsuit, originally filed in 2004, the firm accused
American of negligence for failing to prevent hijackers from
boarding the flight at Logan International Airport in Boston.
The firm had at one point sought more than $1 billion in
damages, but that sum was later reduced to between $464 million
and $484 million.
In defending the case, American had contended that it had no
way to foresee the attack.
The final amount of the Cantor settlement will be slightly
reduced, by less than 2 percent, because two insurers are
insolvent, Stoviak told Hellerstein.
The former AMR Corp, the parent of American Airlines, merged
this week with US Airways Group Inc.
Other Sept. 11-related litigation that has gone through
Hellerstein's court includes cases involving the World Trade
Center's developer, victims, property owners and Ground Zero
The cases are Cantor Fitzgerald & Co et al v. American
Airlines Inc et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of
New York, No. 04-07318; and In re: Sept. 11 Property Damages and
Business Loss Litigation in the same court, No. 21-mc-00101.
(Reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by David Gregorio)