By Jonathan Stempel
NEW YORK Dec 13 Cantor Fitzgerald has agreed to
settle a lawsuit against American Airlines Group Inc and
its insurers over business and property losses stemming from the
Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center, in which the
Wall Street company lost 658 employees.
The settlement in principle averts a trial that had been
slated to begin next month, and was disclosed by lawyers for
both companies at a hearing on Thursday in the U.S. District
Court in Manhattan. Terms were not disclosed.
U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein will consider approval
at a hearing on Jan. 13, 2014, court records show.
Hellerstein oversees much of the litigation stemming from
the Sept. 11 attacks, including cases involving the World Trade
Center's developer, victims, property owners and Ground Zero
workers. The attacks caused close to 3,000 deaths.
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 company had at one time sought $1.1 billion of damages
in its lawsuit against American, but that sum was later reduced
to between $464 million and $489 million.
John Stoviak, a partner at Saul Ewing representing Cantor,
told Hellerstein that "we have reached an agreement on the terms
of a settlement," according to a hearing transcript.
Desmond Barry, a partner at Condon & Forsyth representing
the airline, said the settlement requires dozens of signatures
and approval from insurers around the world, but that the money
has been collected and is being held in escrow.
Cantor had accused American of negligence for failing to
prevent hijackers, including ringleader Mohamed Atta, from
boarding Flight 11 at Logan International Airport in Boston and
eventually crashing the plane.
The lawsuit was originally filed in 2004, and focused on
business interruption and property losses.
In seeking to dismiss the case, American had contended that
it had no way to predict the attack.
American also said the hijackers' intervening criminal acts,
"let alone the actions of fanatical terrorists engaged in a holy
war against the United States," broke any link between its
alleged negligence and Cantor's business losses.
Cantor confirmed the settlement on Friday. A spokesman,
Robert Hubbell, declined to elaborate.
The former AMR Corp, the parent of American Airlines, merged
this week with US Airways Group Inc.
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.