| NEW YORK, July 15
NEW YORK, July 15 A federal judge is days away
from deciding if New York developer Larry Silverstein can
recover as much as $3.5 billion from airlines for damages to the
World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, on top of more than $4
billion he has received from insurers.
U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein started a three-day
trial on Monday in which he will decide how much of the
insurance payments should offset the damages Silverstein is
seeking from the airlines. These include United Airlines, now
United Continental Holdings Inc, American Airlines and
American's parent, AMR Corp.
Roger Podesta, a lawyer for the airlines, argued that
Silverstein's insurers have already paid him for the same losses
he is seeking from the airlines.
The insurance payments and the claims against the airlines
are "for the same category of loss," Podesta said in opening
arguments in a packed courtroom in federal court in New York.
But Rich Williamson, a lawyer representing Silverstein's
World Trade Center Properties, said the airlines' argument
"The grocer would not say 'the categories of food that I
sell are food,'" Williamson said. "You can't just say, 'I have
Hellerstein is deciding the case without a jury. He said in
a pre-trial hearing that he expects to rule immediately
following closing arguments, scheduled for Wednesday.
Should Hellerstein decide the claims do not correspond with
each other, Silverstein would then have to prove liability in a
Hellerstein, a Bronx native and U.S. Army veteran nominated
to the bench by President Bill Clinton, has presided over a
sprawling portfolio of 9/11-related cases.
In January, Hellerstein will hear a trial pitting Cantor
Fitzgerald, which lost 658 employees in the attacks, against
American Airlines. The financial services firm sued the airline
over lost business and the destruction of its offices in the
World Trade Center.
United Airlines merged with Continental Airlines in 2010 to
form United Continental Holdings. AMR Corp, which filed for
bankruptcy in 2011, has announced plans to merge with US Airways
The cases are World Trade Center Properties LLC, et al. v.
United Airlines Inc; World Trade Center Properties LLC, et al.
V. American Airlines Inc, et al, v. American Airlines Inc et
all, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, Nos
08-3719 and 08-3722.