Sunday, July 8, 2012

Bonnie Shihadeh Smithwick


October 04, 2001, Philadelphia Inquirer, Bonnie Smithwick, 54, investor,, by L. Stuart Ditzen,
January 28, 2002, New York Times, Letter, Fix the Victims' Fund
April 08, 2002, Reuters, American Airlines sued for $50 mln in WTC attack, by Gail Appleson,
April 8, 2002, Air Transport Intelligence News, WTC victim's husband sues American Airlines, by Karen Walker,
April 9, 2002, Business Insurance, American Airlines faces $50 million WTC suit,
TriDelta.org: Bonnie Shihadeh Smithwick,
Ivey Barnum & O'Mara, LLC, Media - Personal Injury & Wrongful Death Department: John Q. Kelly,
April 9, 2002, Business Insurance, American Airlines faces $50 million WTC suit,
April 9, 2002, New York Times, Airline Sued in Tower Death, by Robert Worth,
April 9, 2002, ABC News / Associated Press, American Airlines Sued for WTC Attack,
April 10, 2002, The Birmingham Post (England), Spouse to sue airline.
April 10 2002, iol.co.za, Family of SA terror attack victim won't sue, by Megan Power,
Summer, 2002, Haverford Remembers:
July 13, 2003, USA Today, Some 9/11 families reject federal fund and sue, by Martin Kasindorf,
July 13, 2003, New York Times, Paid Notice: Deaths Smithwick, T. James,
November 15, 2004, Crain's Chicago Business, Sept. 11 litigation. (Focus: Law Firms)
October 9, 2005, American Free Press, Sept. 11 Tragedy a Bonanza for Opportunistic Lawyers, by John Tiffany,
March 12, 2009, New York Times, Value of Suing Over 9/11 Deaths Is Still Unsettled, by Benjamin Weiser, 
September 10, 2009, CBS News, Few 9/11 Families Still Suing The Airlines, by Thalia Assuras,
January 17, 2010, New York Post, Final 9/11 holdout kin fight on for 'truth' trial, by Susan Edelman,
August 27, 2010, McClatchy Tribune News Service, Fevered debate on mosque extends to families of Sept. 11 victims,
September 10, 2010, New York Times, Among 9/11 Families, a Last Holdout Remains, by Benjamin Weiser,
February 25, 2011, Huffington Post, NY Sept. 11 wrongful death trial focus may narrow, by Larry Neumeister,
April 27, 2011, New York Times, A 9/11 Judge Sets a Month as Time Limit for a Trial, by Benjamin Weiser, 
April 28, 2011, New York Magazine, Judge Sets a One Month Deadline in 9/11 Wrongful Death Case, By Julie Gerstein,
May 02, 2011, Mainline Media News, Video: Brother of 9/11 victim says 'This is a great day', by Cheryl Allison,
May 02, 2011, Mainline Media News, Bin Laden dead, president confirms,
Fall, 2011, Bucknell Magazine, Remembering the Fallen, by Rhonda K. Miller,
July 27, 2011, New York Times, Judge May Let 9/11 Lawsuit Pursue Damages for Suffering on Doomed Flight,
August 3, 2011, Discovery News, 9/11 Victim Family Suing For Suffering, by Benjamin Radford,
August 6, 2011, 911 Hoax Management: 9/11 Survivors Lawsuit against United 
August 29, 2011, GateHouse News Service / Stuttgart Daily Leader, Massachusetts family presses 9/11 case against airline, By David Riley, 
September 06, 2011, Bucknell University, Bucknell to mark 9/11 anniversary with ceremony and service, by Kathryn Kopchik,
September 7, 2011, Williamsport Sun Gazette, County and regional roundup of 9/11 events, by Mark Maroney,
September 11, 2011, 9-11 Heroes, Bonnie S. Smithwick,
September 11, 2011, New York Times, The Years of Shame, by Paul Krugman,
September 11, 2011, Newsday, 9/11 Anniversary: A decade later, Bonnie Shihadeh Smithwick,
September 19, 2011, New York Times, Family and United Airlines Settle Last 9/11 Wrongful-Death Lawsuit, by Benjamin Weiser, 
September 21, 2011, Associated Press, Last family suing over 9/11 says judge gutted case, by Jimmy Golen, [Short Version]
September 21, 2011, Associated Press, Last family suing over 9/11 says judge gutted case, by Jimmy Golen, [Long Version]
September 21, 2011, The Globe and Mail, Family of former Kings scout settles wrongful death suit, by Allan Maki,
September 22, 2011, ProHockeyTalk, Mark Bavis’ family settles lawsuit with United Airlines over 9/11, by Joe Yerdon,
October 5, 2011, Boston.com / Jere Beasley Report, Airline Settles Nation’s Last 9/11 Lawsuit, by Beasley Allen,



October 04, 2001, Philadelphia Inquirer, Bonnie Smithwick, 54, investor,, by L. Stuart Ditzen, Inquirer Staff Writer,

Bonnie Smithwick, 54, a native of Villanova who spent her adult life in New York working as an investment manager, is presumed to have died in the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.

Mrs. Smithwick worked for Fred Alger & Co., on the 93d floor of the North Tower of the trade center, where she was a portfolio manager.

She lived in Quogue, Long Island, with her husband, T. James Smithwick, an investment manager at Merrill Lynch.

Mrs. Smithwick was the daughter of David and Jeanne Shihadeh of Bryn Mawr, who operated a family rug business, Shihadeh, in Ardmore. Her brother, Peter L. Shihadeh, now runs the business.

David Shihadeh said his daughter graduated from Harriton High School in Lower Merion in 1964 and from Bucknell University in 1968.

He said she went to New York as a young woman and worked for a succession of companies in the investment field. She earned a master's degree from New York University in business and finance.

His daughter loved gardening, tennis and golf, and "most of all, she was a devoted mother and wife," Shihadeh said.

Mrs. Smithwick also is survived by a son, James, and a daughter, Katharine.

A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. Oct. 12 at the chapel at the Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church, 625 Montgomery Ave.

Memorial contributions in Mrs. Smithwick's name may be made to the U.S. Widows and Children Fund, 204 23d St., New York, N.Y. 10010.

L. Stuart Ditzen's e-mail address is sditzen@phillynews.com.



January 28, 2002, New York Times, Letter, Fix the Victims' Fund

To the Editor:

A serious issue regarding the Sept. 11 Victim Compensation Fund not addressed in "Putting a Value on Lives" (editorial, Jan. 24) is the proposed use of sex-based and race-based compensation tables to determine payments to victims and their families. These tables assume that women and minority victims would have earned lower wages during the course of their lifetimes than their white male counterparts.

Such tables compound the present effects of workplace discrimination by spinning it out into the future, and using the projected wages to value individual lives.

Unless neutral tables are used, women and minorities will be awarded lesser compensation based solely on their sex and race. That violates not only the equal protection clause of the Constitution, but also the values of equality and fairness that Americans hold dear.

MARTHA DAVIS

New York, Jan. 24, 2002

The writer is vice president and legal director, NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund.




April 9, 2002, Business Insurance, American Airlines faces $50 million WTC suit,

NEW YORK--American Airlines Inc. and an airport security firm have been hit with a $50 million lawsuit by the family of an investment manager killed during the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the North Tower of the World Trade Center.

Thomas J. Smithwick filed the suit Monday on behalf of his wife, Bonnie Shihadeh Smithwick, a portfolio manager with Fred Alger Management Co. who was working on the tower's 93rd floor when it was struck by American Flight 11. Ms. Smithwick survived the initial impact and called her husband on a cell phone but was killed when the building collapsed, according to the suit.

In addition to American, the complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in New York, names Globe Aviation Services Corp., which handled airport security for American at Logan International Airport in Boston, where the flight originated. The suit seeks $50 million in compensatory damages and unspecified punitive damages for negligence, wrongful death and pain and suffering.

Ms. Smithwick's estate would not be eligible to receive benefits from the federally created Sept. 11 Victim Compensation Fund because she had large life insurance policies that would offset any amounts recoverable from the fund, according to John Q. Kelly, a partner with Kelly & Balber in New York, which is representing the estate.

Many other survivors of World Trade Center victims are holding off decisions on whether to sue or participate in the fund.

James P. Kreindler, a lawyer with Kreindler & Kreindler in New York, which represents 175 victims' families, said many of his clients have life insurance and other sources of compensation that could drastically reduce their recoveries from the fund. Nevertheless, Mr. Kreindler said, his clients are waiting to see whether actual fund payments exceed "presumptive" amounts outlined by the fund's managers before deciding whether to sue.One problem with suing the airlines, Mr. Kreindler noted, is that the $1.5 billion to $2 billion in insurance coverage each airline carried would not be enough to cover a deluge of such claims. Global Aerospace Underwriting Managers Ltd. in London led the American program.



April 08, 2002, Reuters, American Airlines sued for $50 mln in WTC attack, by Gail Appleson, 02:47 PM ET

NEW YORK, April 8 (Reuters) - American Airlines, a unit of AMR Corp AMR.N was sued for more than $50 million on Monday by the husband of a highly paid portfolio manager who was killed on Sept. 11 in her World Trade Center office.

The suit, filed in Manhattan federal court, was brought on behalf of Bonnie Shihadeh Smithwick who had worked at the Fred Alger Management Company on the 93rd floor of the north tower known as One World Trade Center. The tower was hit by American Flight 11 after hijackers took control of the plane.

The suit alleged that Smithwick survived the initial impact of the attack and telephoned her husband, Thomas Smithwick, using a cellular phone. However, she was unable to escape the raging fire and died when the tower collapsed.

The Smithwick suit sees $50 million in compensatory damages and unspecified punitive damages for the terror, pain and suffering, wrongful death and economic loss.

John Kelly, the plaintiff's lawyer, said Smithwick was highly paid and her estate would not have been eligible to receive any money from the Sept. 11 Victims Compensation Fund because she had substantial life insurance policies.

"Ms. Smithwick's case presents a clear example of the fundamental flaw in the Victims Compensation Fund...any compensation due under the plan is reduced by monies received from collateral sources such as life insurance policies," Kelly said. "In Ms. Smithwick's case, that amount would be reduced to zero."

The compensation program is part of an airline assistance package approved by Congress in September. By taking part in the program, families of victims give up their right to sue and seek damages from any defendants, such as the airlines or the World Trade Center.

About 3,000 people died in the Sept. 11 attacks by three hijacked airliners on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and the crash of a fourth hijacked plane in Pennsylvania.

Although other suits have been filed stemming from the hijacked airplane attacks, Kelly said he believes this is the first brought against American Airlines on behalf of a victim killed inside of the World Trade Center.

A spokesman for American said the company does not comment on pending litigation.

The lawsuit accuses American and Globe Aviation Services, the company it contracted with to operate the security system at Boston's Logan Airport, of negligence and reckless misconduct. The suit alleges that several hijackers who boarded American Flight 11 at Logan succeeded in transporting weapons through the screening and security systems.

It alleges the defendants' inadequate security measures and deficient passenger screening system were insufficent to combat the risk of terrorist activity on domestic flights. Reuters




April 10, 2002, The Birmingham Post (England)Spouse to sue airline.

The husband of a woman who died in the September 11 terrorist attack on New York's World Trade Centre is suing American Airlines and an airport security company for pounds 35 million.

Thomas Smithwick alleges that the airline and Globe Aviation Services Corporation failed to properly screen passengers boarding Flight 11 at Logan International Airport in Boston on September 11.

Hijackers flew the jetliner into the trade centre's north tower, where the plaintiff's wife, Bonnie Shihadeh Smithwick, worked on the 93rd floor for Fred Alger Management.




April 10 2002, iol.co.za, Family of SA terror attack victim won't sue, by Megan Power, at 08:41am

The family of a South African killed in the World Trade Centre attack in 2001 will not file a wrongful death lawsuit against American Airlines.

Former Johannesburg resident, 29-year-old Nicholas Rowe, died along with thousands of others when an American Airlines Boeing 767 was flown into the landmark New York twin towers on September 11, 2001.

Rowe, who had been on the 106th floor of the north tower attending a conference, had moved to the United States five years earlier.

On Monday, the first wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of a World Trade Centre worker against an airline was filed in New York. All other suits have been filed on behalf of passengers killed aboard the two ill-fated jets.

The husband of victim Bonnie Shihadeh Smithwick, who had been working on the 93rd floor of the World Trade Centre's north tower when the attack took place, is suing American Airlines and an airport security firm for $50-million (about R560-million).

He claims they failed to properly screen passengers boarding Flight 11 at Boston's Logan International Airport.

On Tuesday night, Rowe's sister in Pretoria, Rachel Logan, said the family had been encouraged by friends to sue for damages but had decided against it.

"We talked about it, but realised it would be too traumatic for us," said Logan.

"Besides, the legal costs would be enormous, especially from South Africa. It's easier for people living in America to sue," she said.

Rowe's parents travelled from Johannesburg to New York in March to clear out her brother's flat, she said.

The family of the other South African victim, 37-year-old Craig Gibson, were unavailable for comment.

Gibson, who had moved to New York with his Australian wife just eight months earlier, had been at his desk on the 94th floor of the north tower when the towers were struck.




Summer, 2002, Haverford Remembers:

The close-knit nature of the Haverford community was evident in the weeks after September 11, when people met to console each other, share stories and memories, and to memorialize those lost. Nine months later, Haverfordians turned out in record numbers on Alumni Weekend for on-campus memorials-and to reconnect with the College.

We Pay tribute to the four men in these pages and, in doing so, we acknowledge those lost in the extended Haverford family: Andy Kates, brother of Seth kates '83 and husband to Emily Terry '85; Howard Kestenbaum, father of Lauren Kaustenbaum '99; Ted Moy, father of Jessica Moy '04; and Bonnie Smithwick; daughter of David Shihadeh '39.




TriDelta.orgBonnie Shihadeh Smithwick,



Bonnie Shihadeh Smithwick

On the morning of September 11, Bonnie arose at her home in the Hamptons, made coffee and left for her long commute to the World Trade Center. She managed a small-cap investment fund for the Fred Alger Investment Company on the 93rd floor of the North Tower, the exact floor the first plane hit.

When the plane hit, Bonnie called her husband, Jim. He was not in yet. She spoke to his secretary saying, “We have an emergency here, I must speak to Jim.”

The phone then went dead. Shortly after, Jim got the message. He tried, unsuccessfully, to get into the North Tower. Police and fire already had cordoned off the building. Jim had hoped Bonnie had escaped, but unfortunately, she had not.

Bonnie received her bachelors of arts degree from Bucknell and a masters of business administration from New York University. While at Bucknell, she sang in the Chapel Choir, was a varsity cheerleader and a member of the homecoming court.

In addition to her husband, Bonnie is survived by her parents, David and Jeanne; her son, Jim; daughter, Katherine; and brother, Peter.

Bonnie’s family has asked that donations in her name be sent to the UFA Widows and Children Fund, 204 E 23 St, New York, NY 10010.



April 8, 2002, Air Transport Intelligence News,  WTC victim's husband sues American Airlines, by Karen Walker, Washington D.C., (21:37 GMT, 308 words)

American Airlines faces a $50 million lawsuit from the husband of a woman who was in the World Trade Center on 11 September and died after one of its aircraft was crashed into the building.

The lawsuit is believed to be the first to be brought against either of the two airlines involved – American and United Airlines - on behalf of someone who was in the World Trade Center and killed as a result of the terrorist attacks.

Some lawsuits have been filed by families of victims onboard aircraft used during the attacks, including one by the wife of a passenger on the United aircraft that was crashed into the World Trade Center by hijackers.

According to reports on this latest lawsuit, filed today in New York, the husband of Bonnie Shihadeh Smithwick is seeking $50 million in compensatory damages from American and unspecified punitive damages for the terror, pain and suffering, wrongful death and economic loss resulting from her death.

Smithwick was working on the 93rd floor of the World Trade Center when the American aircraft struck by the tower. Although she survived the impact, and telephoned her husband, she was unable to escape from the building and died when it collapsed.

Families of attack victims must give up their rights to sue and seek damages if they take part in the 11 September Victims Compensation Fund and receive money from that fund. However, the amount of money paid to each relative from the government relief fund is based on factors that include the family’s wealth status and the amount of life insurance they can claim.

In the Smithwick case, it is believed that she was a highly-paid manager who had substantial life insurance. Consequently, according to her husband’s lawyer, no compensation is available to him.

American Airlines declines comment, saying it never comments on pending litigation.



Ivey Barnum & O'Mara, LLC, Media - Personal Injury & Wrongful Death Department: John Q. Kelly,
Attorney John Q. Kelly is a fixture on the national legal scene and appears regularly on national television, both as a featured guest and legal commentator, including appearances on:

NBC's The Today Show
ABC's Good Morning America
CBS's The Early Show
Larry King Live
Dr. Phil Show
Nightline
Dateline
Primetime Live
The O'Reilly Factor
Fox and Friends On The Record with Greta Van Susteren
Business Report with Neal Cavuto
Joe Scarborough, "Scarborough Country"
Keith Olbermann
Dan Abrams, "Abrams Report"
Nancy Grace, CNN
Live Desk with Martha MacCallum
E! Entertainment
CNN Headline News
MSNBC Live

Mr. Kelly has been profiled in a number of legal and news publications, including the New York Law Journal, Lawyers Weekly, New York Post, New York Daily News and the Wall Street Journal. He has been published in "Vital Speeches of the Day."

Areas of concentration:
Personal Injury/Wrongful Death
White-Collar Litigation



April 9, 2002, New York Times, Airline Sued in Tower Death, by Robert Worth,

A NATION CHALLENGED: LITIGATION;

The husband of a woman who died in the World Trade Center collapse filed a $50 million lawsuit yesterday against American Airlines and an airport security company in what appears to be the first suit against an airline on behalf of someone who worked in the building.

The suit, filed in Federal District Court in Manhattan, accuses the American Airlines and Globe Aviation Services of negligence in letting the hijackers board and take control of one of the planes that struck the tower. It was filed by Thomas James Smithwick, whose wife, Bonnie Shihadeh Smithwick, worked at Fred Alger Management on the 93rd floor of 1 World Trade Center.

It was the first lawsuit filed since the release last month of final rules for the federal Victims Compensation Fund, which requires participating families to give up their right to sue. A handful of people have opted out and filed suit on behalf of passengers on the planes that struck the trade towers, but none had yet sued on behalf of those who were in the towers or in the Pentagon, lawyers said.

Ms. Smithwick, a highly paid portfolio manager, would have received no damages from the compensation fund because she had bought large life insurance policies for her family, said John Q. Kelly, a lawyer who is representing her estate. Under the compensation fund's rules, life insurance and other benefits are deducted from payouts, which will average about $1.85 million. However, Kenneth R. Feinberg, the special master of the fund, has said victims will receive no less than $250,000 no matter what insurance or pension benefits they get.

Todd Burke, a spokesman for American Airlines, declined to comment, citing the company's policy on litigation. A spokesman for Globe Aviation Services also declined to comment yesterday.



April 9, 2002, ABC News / Associated Press, American Airlines Sued for WTC Attack,

NEW YORK, April 9 — The husband of a woman who died in the World Trade Center collapse has sued American Airlines and an airport security company for $50 million.

The suit is the first brought against an airline on behalf of someone who worked in the trade center, according to lawyers for the woman's family.

The wrongful death suit, filed by Thomas Smithwick in federal court in Manhattan on Monday, alleges that the airline and Globe Aviation Services Corp. failed to properly screen passengers boarding Flight 11 at Logan International Airport in Boston on Sept. 11.

Hijackers flew the jetliner into the trade center's north tower, where his wife, Bonnie Shihadeh Smithwick, worked on the 93rd floor as a money manager for Fred Alger Management Co.

An American Airlines spokesman, Todd Burke, and a Globe Aviation spokeswoman, Lynn Glovka, declined comment.

Several suits have been filed by families of the passengers on the jets used in the attacks; other victims' families have sued Osama bin Laden's terrorist network, al Qaeda.



July 13, 2003, USA Today, Some 9/11 families reject federal fund and sue, by Martin Kasindorf,

The U.S. government made two promises to the families of those who died in the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks: A special Justice Department fund would compensate their financial losses and official investigations would uncover the security failures that enabled al-Qaeda to kill 3,027 people.


Carole O'Hare's mother Hilda Marcin, 79, was aboard United Airlines Flight 93. O'Hare is suing the airline.

By Jack Gruber, USA TODAYUncle Sam asked only one thing of the families in return: Don't drag the battered airlines and their affiliates into court. Many members of Congress wanted to avoid the sad spectacle of victims' families suing another hard-hit group.

Nearly two years later, many families of 9/11 victims are rejecting that guidance.

With the Dec. 22 deadline to apply for government payments nearing, the relatives of 1,995 deceased victims have submitted claims. The families are lining up for settlement checks that are averaging nearly $1.5 million, and are agreeing not to sue airlines, airports, security companies or other U.S. entities that might be faulted in the fatal hijackings.

Meanwhile, with official findings of blame for the attacks slow in coming, hundreds of victims' survivors are spurning the government cash and flocking to federal courts. Undeterred by the difficulty in proving that anyone was culpably negligent — or by roadblocks set up by Congress and the Bush administration — the determined survivors are seeking money and facts on their own.

"Someday, please God, I will see my son again," says Kathleen Ashton, of Woodside, N.Y., whose son, Thomas Ashton, 21, died at the World Trade Center. "I need to be able to look at him and say, 'Tommy, I did the right thing.' The right thing is not to take the (government) money. The right thing is to try to get answers, to see what sort of lapses allowed the murderers to do what they were able to do."

Nearly 100 individual and class-action lawsuits have been filed. More are likely by this Sept. 11, which under New York state law — the guideline being used for claims related to the attacks— is the two-year deadline for filing personal-injury lawsuits. Behind some of the lawsuits are prominent lawyers who have won billions of dollars from tobacco and asbestos companies in verdicts and settlements.

The 9/11 families are suing not only United and American airlines and others in aviation, but also Osama bin Laden, Saudi royal princes, Arab banks, Muslim charities and the governments of Iraq, Iran, Sudan and Afghanistan. In a complaint filed in Miami by Judicial Watch, a government watchdog group, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is accused of sending "at least $1 million" to al-Qaeda and the Taliban, the deposed ruling group in Afghanistan that was aligned with bin Laden. (Venezuelan officials deny making any such donation.)

Slapping lawsuits on terrorists might amount to little more than psychically satisfying payback, because recovering money from a shadowy network is all but impossible. Alleged financiers of terrorism are more reasonable targets and have deeper pockets.

The search for evidence is barely underway, but the aggressive litigation already has shown signs of unraveling some of the mysteries shrouding the attacks.

One pretrial discovery debunks the widespread notion, endorsed briefly after the attacks by Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, that the box cutters the hijackers carried had been allowed under federal security rules.

An anonymous whistleblower mailed a copy of the airlines' pre-Sept. 11 list of banned items to Los Angeles litigation lawyer Mary Schiavo, whose firm is representing the families of 62 jet passengers. The list showed that box cutters were among the potential weapons that screeners were supposed to confiscate. Federal officials have not questioned the document's authenticity.

Schiavo, a former Transportation Department inspector general, calls the document "the smoking gun" in suits against the checkpoint guards' employers and the airlines that hired those private firms. But Jim May, president of the Air Transport Association of America, the major airlines' lobbying group, says the walk-through metal detectors approved by U.S. authorities were unlikely to spot dangerous items smaller than a handgun.

Meanwhile, the litigation has lent some support to the Bush administration's effort to cast Saddam Hussein's Iraq as having been allied with al-Qaeda, a claim the White House made while trying to justify the war with Baghdad.

The administration's claim that Saddam sheltered a bin Laden ally with ties to chemical weapons didn't sway the United Nations Security Council.

But in May, a federal judge in New York found it convincing enough to order Iraq to pay a $64 million "default" judgment — Iraq never showed up in court — to the families of two businessmen who were killed at the Trade Center. It's unclear whether the families will ever see any of the money.

Litigating families say they aren't waiting any longer for official committees to establish the full story behind the attacks.

A House-Senate panel has finished an 800-page report that deals mostly with intelligence failures, but the White House has held up its release to review classified information in it. An independent national panel headed by former New Jersey governor Tom Kean recently held its first two public hearings. The commission's leaders have complained that government agencies have been slow to answer their requests for information.

James Debeuneure, 58, a Washington, D.C., schoolteacher, died aboard American Flight 77 when it hit the Pentagon. His son, Jacques Debeuneure, 34, a Matthews, N.C., postal worker, says his lawsuit against the airline provides a separate avenue of investigation. He's asking the court for access to flight recorder data and cockpit voice tapes from the doomed jet.

"If you go with the federal fund," he says, "you're out of the loop."

Lawsuits 'a real crapshoot'

One advantage of the unprecedented victims' compensation fund: It works fast.

Administrator Kenneth Feinberg determines payments under formulas using a decedent's age, income and dependents. Feinberg expects to pay out a total of $4 billion. So far he's distributed $559 million to settle 380 claims.

The claims process usually takes about four months; there are 1,615 claims under consideration. The largest award so far, $6 million, went to the family of a victim who earned more than $200,000 a year.

But Debeuneure says he's learned that the fund would pay him nothing. Congress requires payouts to be reduced by any amounts that survivors have gotten from life insurance and other death benefits. Debeuneure says his father was "well-prepared" for death because of insurance.

Nine other families sued Feinberg, saying his formulas shortchange victims who made more than $231,000 a year when compared with sums that juries regularly award such victims' families in tort actions.

In May, a federal judge in New York upheld Feinberg's rules. Many of those now filing civil suits, relatives of high-income and well-insured professionals, aren't happy with what they'd get from Feinberg's fund.

Most 9/11 cases are traditional tort lawsuits that accuse U.S.-based defendants of negligence. Complaints name airlines, Boeing (for allegedly "flimsy" cockpit doors), three security-checkpoint screening firms and the airports that the hijackers passed through — Boston's Logan International, Dulles International near Washington, D.C., Newark (N.J.) International, and Portland (Maine) International Jetport.

"It's about people being responsible for their actions," says Carole O'Hare, 51, of Danville, Calif. She's suing United over the death of her mother, Hilda Marcin, 79, one of 37 passengers on the hijacked jet that crashed near Shanksville, Pa. "My mother had a contract with the airlines. They were supposed to get her from Point A to Point B."

Some complaints on behalf of victims on the ground name the Trade Center, alleging that it had poor fireproofing and gave workers in the south tower tragically bad advice to stay at their desks after the north tower was struck.

Attorneys warn would-be litigants that they'll have to relive the 9/11 tragedy for a long time; aviation-disaster trials and appeals often drag on for 10 years. And it's far from certain that juries, despite sympathy for the families, will hold anyone legally liable.

Defendants say in pleadings that a plot to fly hijacked jets into buildings wasn't "reasonably foreseeable." Airlines, airports and security screeners say they followed U.S. regulations.

Plaintiffs' attorneys grumble that the Bush administration is imposing additional obstacles.

The attorneys want United and American airlines to produce records of their security programs, government tests of those programs, hijacking warnings from the government, and pre-9/11 travel by the hijackers. The Justice Department, saying the records could reveal "sensitive security information," intervened and was granted the authority to veto the release of such information.

For a year, the government's move stalled the pretrial process of deposing witnesses under oath and subpoenaing documents. Now it's edging back on track. Schiavo says she expects the wrongful-death suits to be consolidated into four trials, one for each hijacked jet, that would start in 2005.

If the plaintiffs can persuade juries and appeals courts to award damages, they will encounter a barrier Congress raised that could prevent the full collection of any judgments. The law that forces families to choose between the U.S. fund and the courts limits the potential liability of a company or airport authority to the amount of its insurance coverage.

Plaintiffs' attorneys say the airlines, for example, carried about $1.5 billion insurance for each flight. Some of the insurance money will pay for damage on the ground, leaving less for any families that win in court.

"You have to figure out how to equitably distribute a limited pool of dollars among people with very, very diverging legal claims and theories," says Stuart Newberger, a Washington, D.C., lawyer who has handled terrorism claims against Libya and Iran but who isn't involved in 9/11 litigation. "You could have the very unseemly spectacle of people fighting with each other over limited funds."

Newberger says a negligence suit is "a real crapshoot," and says the federal fund is "a reasonable choice for victim families to make." The fund offers compensation "far below what one could win in court if successful, but maybe more than one could get in the real world."

New York lawyer Mitchell Baumeister, who specializes in aviation cases, predicts that about 85% of victims' families eventually will choose the fund, while the others will risk going to court.

Targeting alleged conspirators

Families have another option that carries the longest odds of all.

Congress allowed them to sue "knowing participants in the hijacking conspiracy" without losing rights to government compensation. More than 4,000 victims' survivors have joined 11 lawsuits against terrorists and their alleged supporters.

These complaints are a long international reach for justice, and for whatever assets of the defendants can be found in the USA.

Led by tobacco-wars veteran Ron Motley of Mount Pleasant, S.C., a consortium of law firms last August plunked a 406-page complaint into federal court in Washington, D.C. It targets rich Muslims who allegedly have helped to fund al-Qaeda.

Among the 225 defendants: the bin Laden family's Saudi Arabia-based construction business; five Saudi princes, including the defense and interior ministers and the former chief of intelligence; Arab-owned banks, and Islamic foundations. Other attorneys have brought two similar suits.

Saudi officials have said the royal family considers the suit "culturally offensive and undignified." Several Saudi defendants have asked a U.S. judge to dismiss the lawsuit.

Among those joining the massive international-terrorism lawsuits are some of the 2,337 people who were injured in the Sept. 11 attacks. Nearly 1,000 of the injured have filed claims for compensation from the federal fund, as well.

(Another 35 personal-injury lawsuits have been filed against New York and New Jersey agencies by workers involved in the cleanup at the Trade Center site after the attacks. The workers allege they have health problems because they were not given proper equipment to protect them from toxic fumes.)

In October 2001, Philadelphia lawyer James Beasley filed the first lawsuit on behalf of families whose relatives were killed in the Sept. 11 attacks. Long before President Bush threatened war against Iraq, the suit blamed Saddam, bin Laden, al-Qaeda, the Taliban and Afghanistan. None responded to the complaint, which was "served" on the defendants via Al Jazeera, the Arabic satellite TV channel.

U.S. District Judge Harold Baer Jr. held a hearing on damages in his New York court. He considered testimony implicating Iraq from ex-CIA director James Woolsey as well as Secretary of State Colin Powell's Feb. 5 speech at the U.N. that advocated retaliatory force.

Baer ruled on May 7 that the evidence "barely" established an Iraqi connection to the Trade Center attacks, but that it was enough to convince a "reasonable jury" of that. He ordered Iraq to pay $57 million to widow Katherine Soulas and $7 million to heirs of business executive George Smith.

The victorious plaintiffs hoped to collect the judgment from the $1.7 billion in Iraqi assets that had been frozen in the USA by presidential order since 1990.

But on May 22, Bush ordered that Iraqi assets here not be used to pay court judgments. He reserved the money for postwar rebuilding of Iraq, except for $300 million that was set aside for Americans who were seized as human shields by Saddam at the start of the Persian Gulf War in 1990.

Soulas, a guest of Bush at the 2002 State of the Union address, is "just devastated," says Beasley's son, lawyer James Beasley Jr.

For most of those who have gone to court, suing over the 9/11 attacks is more than a way to collect money or answer lingering questions, says Larry Klayman, chairman and chief counsel of Judicial Watch. "It's also a cathartic experience for the client."

Ashton's fervor is proof of that. Aside from suing United Airlines, she is the lead plaintiff in a suit that seeks $1 trillion in damages from international terrorists.

She says she signed on "because I want these bastards, these Iraqis and Iran and al-Qaeda and bin Laden, I want them to know my son's name. My son would really think it was very cool."



July 13, 2003, New York Times, Paid Notice: Deaths Smithwick, T. James,

SMITHWICK--T. James. 59 of Quogue, NY, died suddenly on July 11, 2003, in Culpepper, VA, while attending a horse show with his daughter. He was the very proud and devoted father of James W. Smithwick and Katharine E. Smithwick. His wife Bonnie Shihadeh Smithwick predeceased him on September 11, 2001. Jim was a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and received a masters of business administration from New York University. Jim was employed by Merrill Lynch for over 20 years, retiring in December 2001. He attained the rank of Lieutenant in the United States Navy, serving his country with UDT Team 11 in Vietnam. He was a member of the New York Athletic Club, the Quogue Beach Club, the Long Island Club and a Governor of the Quogue Field Club. He was the cherished and loving son of Thomas M. Smithwick of Tequesta, FL, brother of Robert N. Smithwick of Florida, Marleen Galas of Barrington, IL, Patricia Rafter of Port Chester, NY, and Betty Schultz of Denver, CO. He was a rock to his family and friends. His many friends and family will miss his constant loyalty, great wit, strong character and confident leadership. A Funeral Mass will be held Tuesday, July 15, 11 AM at Immaculate Conception Church, Westhampton Beach, NY. Donations may be made to the Special Operations Fund, 1215 19th Street NW, Washington, DC, 20036, and Doctors Without Borders, PO Box 1856, Merrifield, VA 22116.



November 15, 2004, Crain's Chicago Business, Sept. 11 litigation. (Focus: Law Firms)

The Lawyers: Michael R. Feagley (Mayer Brown Rowe & Maw LLP); Gary Westerberg (Lord Bissell & Brook LLP)

The Client: UAL Corp.

Venue: U.S. District Court, New York City

Case description: Wrongful death, negligence. Mr. Feagley is defending United Airlines against 125 lawsuits arising from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Mr. Westerberg is representing defendant Globe Aviation Services Inc., an airport security contractor. The claims, filed in late 2001, seek billions of dollars in recovery for the deaths of the passengers aboard the aircraft and property damage to the World Trade Center. The lawsuits allege that negligence by United, American Airlines, Globe, the airports, other airlines and Boeing Co. enabled the terrorists to succeed in a plot to hijack planes and fly them into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.




October 9, 2005, American Free Press, Sept. 11 Tragedy a Bonanza for Opportunistic Lawyers, by John Tiffany,

Since Sept. 11, 2001, a wave of lawsuits?some valid, some specious?has been filed against anyone and anything even remotely connected to the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Lawsuits on behalf of the victims of 9-11 against the terrorists, alleged terrorist states and the sponsors of terrorism as well as civil actions on behalf of the victims against the airlines, their security companies and others are under way.

The first known suit brought against American Air lines and Globe Aviation Services on behalf of a worker in the World Trade Center (WTC) was by Thomas Smith wick, whose wife Bonnie Shihadeh Smithwick perished after surviving the initial ?hit.? Mrs. Smithwick used her mobile telephone to call her husband during the attack.

The suit alleged that the defendants failed to screen passengers boarding Flight 11 at Logan International Airport on the fatal day.

Mrs. Smithwick worked for Fred Alger Management on the 93rd floor of the North Tower, which was apparently hit by Flight 11.

This suit, a wrongful death action, was for $50 million, according to Airwise News.

Several other suits have been filed by families of the passengers of the jets used in the attacks; other victims? families have sued Osama bin Laden?s terrorist network, al Qaeda, which conventional thinking holds responsible for the attacks.

On Dec. 4, 2001, Judicial Watch (JW), established in 1994 to serve as a legal ?watchdog? over our government, legal and judicial systems, announced the filing of a lawsuit on behalf of an anonymous widower-victim of the Sept. 11 attacks, against Iraq, bin Laden, al Qaeda, Afghanistan and the Taliban for the murder of his wife at the WTC.

The lawsuit, said to have been ?based on a compilation of compelling evidence,? describes an alleged conspiracy between Saddam Hussein?s Iraqi government and al Qaeda.

JW has also asked the U.S. government to consider Saudi Arabia an "enemy" because many of the alleged hijackers came from there. It has also demanded to know why the government has treated Pakistan with kid gloves: "Evidence indicates that Pakistan is now providing a safe haven for Osama bin Laden, the terrorist President Bush wanted 'dead or alive'," says JW.

According to ABC News, some 600 family members of the Sept. 11, 2001 victims have filed a $116 trillion lawsuit against the Sudanese government and Saudi officials, banks and charities, charging that they financed bin Laden?s network and the 9-11 attacks.

SAUDI PRINCES

The lawsuit, modeled on the lines of the suit filed against Libya by relatives of the victims of the Pam Am Flight 103 disaster in 1988, seeks to ?cripple these banks and charities and the Saudi princes as a deterrent to future terrorist-funding activities.?

According to Sierra Times, an Internet news site: "[A] hefty cash settlement, called a Victims Compensation Fund, [was] offered by the U.S. government for the surviving families of the Sept. 11 attacks on the WTC. However, there was a catch: to get the money: the families had to surrender the right to file other lawsuits. Some of them refused, instead choosing to sue the airlines."

All this is interesting but the important news is that approximately 33 families of 9-11 victims have filed suits against the Bush administration to learn the truth about the government "negligence" that led to 9-11, and to hold accountable those whose "negligence" led to the deaths.

But on June 20, Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft's Justice Department told U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein that the Transportation Security Agency (TSA) must review all evidence before it goes to the families and will remove any evidence it deems "sensitive."

It was TSA Director John McGaw who led the investigations of the Oklahoma City bombing, TWA Flight 800, the Olympics bombing and the church arson task force. Those investigations are widely viewed as nothing more than cover-ups. The government is arguing that the legal discovery of documents raises ?grave national security concerns.?

Some people are starting to question just what the Bush administration is so concerned about hiding. Congress has also passed a law making it difficult for relatives of the 9-11 incident to sue anyone but the alleged terrorists.

Given the many warnings that came before 9-11, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), which is responsible for protecting the airspace of Alaska, Canada and the United States, deserves blame for the utter failure to defend the skies on 9-11. So do many others in the federal government, including powerful figures at the highest levels.

Thousands of lives could have been saved if standard procedures had been properly followed. At a minimum, those not in the WTC's North Tower need not have died, if the Federal Aviation Administration, the federal agency tasked with monitoring air traffic, and NORAD had done their job properly, according to the Center for Co operative Research (CCR), a web-based alternative news site.

Says CCR: Many unanswered questions remain and are likely to remain unanswered until people put pressure on the media and government to finally stop covering up what happened on 9-11.?

Many Americans are starting to ask, Should President Bush and some of those who surround him be impeached for failing to take action on 9-11 warnings and for assisting the terrorists? And was it only negligence, or was it something far worse?? Several web sites have been set up for those who want Congress to impeach the president.





March 12, 2009, New York Times, Value of Suing Over 9/11 Deaths Is Still Unsettled, by Benjamin Weiser,

After the 9/11 terror attacks, thousands of people faced a weighty and uncomfortable decision. Congress had created a special fund to compensate survivors and victims’ families, but said that those who received compensation from it could not sue airlines or airport security firms, among other entities.

People with claims had to decide whether to accept an early, assured payment from the fund or take their chances in the courts, possibly facing legal hardball tactics, delays and the risk of losing.

In the end, a vast majority sought compensation from the fund, which paid out more than $7 billion to survivors of 2,880 people who were killed and to thousands of others who were injured.

Now, more than seven years after the attacks, a new court report suggests that the small minority who went their own way and sued made out better financially: 93 of the 96 claims have been settled, for an average of $5 million, or more than twice the average payment from the special fund.

But calculating cost and benefit is never easy when lives are involved. If anything, the report, released last week by United States District JudgeAlvin K. Hellerstein of the Southern District of New York, who has overseen the lawsuits, refocuses attention on the variety of goals — money, answers, justice, peace of mind — that survivors and the relatives of those who died had to weigh in the wake of an overwhelming loss.

Kenneth R. Feinberg, the special master who administered the government’s Victim Compensation Fund, said in an interview that comparing court settlements with the fund’s quicker payouts was pointless.

Those who sued, he said, ended up paying legal fees and court costs, and waited for years for money they could have received earlier and invested. “I’d be surprised if they netted out a better dollar award or psychological satisfaction than if they had taken the fund,” he said.

“We encouraged people to try to move on,” he added. “ ‘Get it behind you. Remarry. Get a new life. Don’t live this for 5 or 10 years.’ ”

But Donald A. Migliori, a lawyer whose firm handled about 60 suits and 40 fund cases, said there was no question that, on average, those who sued fared better financially than those who accepted money from the compensation fund. “You absolutely can compare those numbers,” he said.

He said Mr. Feinberg had “sold the Victim Compensation Fund through fear, by suggesting to people that they would never do any better.”

Mr. Feinberg waved away the criticism. “Spoken like an excellent trial lawyer,” he said.

Many families chose the fund because it offered a relatively quick resolution — the process was completed within 33 months.

Herbert E. Nass, a lawyer who represented the parents of Ingeborg Lariby, a 42-year-old office manager who worked in the World Trade Center, said his clients had wanted to put the matter behind them.

“They were never motivated by money,” he said. “Even if they felt they could have gotten double what we got from the panel, it wouldn’t have mattered.”

Gillian K. Hadfield, a law professor at the University of Southern California, surveyed about 140 people who had lost a relative and were eligible to file with the fund, as part of a studypublished last year on how people chose between doing so or suing.

She said that many opted for the fund’s payout because of pressing financial needs, like the loss of a breadwinner, but that they later felt a range of emotions — “discomfort, regret, shame, anger” — about not filing suits, which might have provided more information, accountability and change.

One widow agonized over whether applying to the fund might do a disservice to her husband and other victims’ families, because suing seemed to be the only way to find out why the attacks happened, said her lawyer, Ralph F. Sbrogna of Worcester, Mass.

He said the woman also feared that families who sued might lose and end up with nothing. She ultimately accepted a payment from the fund, he said, “for the sake of her children,” to get whatever she could for their education and future.

Yet for some of those who decided to sue, the fear of losing in court was not a worry.

“It was never a risk to me because it was never about getting more money,” said Julie Sweeney Roth, who sued United Airlines and other defendants over the death of her husband, Brian D. Sweeney, 38, who was aboard United Flight 175 when it hit the south tower of the trade center.

“I wanted to know why and how this happened in this country,” Ms. Roth said. “If suing for money is how I have to do it, then that’s what I’m going to do.”

But she said that the legal process became oppressive, and Ms. Roth, who has remarried, settled her lawsuit two years ago. “I moved forward,” she said, confident that others would “see this through to the end to get the answers we all deserve.”

In his report, Judge Hellerstein summarized the litigation, involving lawsuits filed on behalf of 96 victims — 85 for wrongful deaths and 11 for injuries.

He noted that some families of victims with high incomes chose to sue because they believed that the fund would not adequately compensate them. The fund’s payouts in wrongful-death cases averaged about $2.1 million.

The judge said he took steps to assure fairness in the process, capping legal fees at 15 percent of settlements and decreeing that “like parties should expect like settlements.”

He even rejected four settlements, which ranged from $5.5 million to $8 million, as “disproportionately large.”

The process was aided enormously, he said, by his appointment of a mediator, Sheila L. Birnbaum, a partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, who, with a colleague, Thomas E. Fox, helped resolve 72 cases.

In an interview, Ms. Birnbaum said that settlement amounts were influenced by factors like income, family situations and state wrongful-death laws, but added, “At the end of the day, it’s what’s offered and what’s accepted.”

Desmond T. Barry Jr. of Condon & Forsyth, a lawyer for the defendants, declined comment, except to say that cases were settled without admissions of liability or wrongdoing.

The agreements required that the amounts the plaintiffs received be kept confidential.

Judge Hellerstein wrote that he had encouraged litigants to apply to the fund “and get a good recovery — maybe not the best, but you don’t have to prove anything.”

The judge knew from experience that “lawsuits are not really effective in letting people get to what the real problems were,” he added. “They’re not good tools for investigation.”

But Mr. Migliori, the plaintiffs’ lawyer, who is a partner at Motley Rice, disagreed. He said that during the discovery process, the lawsuits had turned up mountains of material that helped explain the security lapses that allowed the attacks to take place.

That material remains largely confidential, he said, adding that the plaintiffs in the three unresolved lawsuits are seeking to have it made public as part of any settlement.

One of Mr. Migliori’s clients who was compensated through the fund was Alice Hoagland of Los Gatos, Calif. Her son Mark Bingham, 31, was a passenger on United Flight 93 who fought back against the hijackers before the plane crashed in Shanksville, Pa.

She said that she felt only admiration for families who sued, even if they settled without a public trial.

“It was a harrowing and brave way to go,” Ms. Hoagland said. “They have earned every cent.”

Medical Views Of 9/11's Dust Show Big Gaps (October 24, 2006)

NYC; The Price Of Life After 9/11 (June 18, 2004)



September 10, 2009, CBS News, Few 9/11 Families Still Suing The Airlines, by Thalia Assuras,

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The only way Julie Shontere sees and hears her daughter Angie Houtz anymore is by playing a videotape over and over again, reports CBS News Correspondent Thalia Assuras.

"I think we need to focus on our community, getting out and impacting people one by one," Houtz says on a video.

Angie Houtz was active in her church and worked at the Pentagon in Naval Intelligence, investigating terrorist attacks.

"If a mother was to pick a place to work, I would have thought that the middle ring in the Pentagon would have been one of the safest places in America," Shontere said.

But on September 11, 2001, Houtz was among the 125 people killed when an American Airlines flight exploded into the pentagon, and her mother is determined to hold the airlines and airline security firms responsible.

"I do it to honor Angie," Shontere said. "She was part of the intelligence community, and almost the irony that that's what took her life has prompted me to pursue answers in the name of what I believe she would want to know."

Shontere is one of a handful of victim's families who opted not to accept compensation from a fund set up by the government, the Victim's Compensation Fund, or VCF. But to receive that money, they had to had to agree not to sue the airlines.

"The Victims Compensation Fund wasn't looking for answers," Shontere said. "It wasn't looking for accountability. What it did is it effectively bailed the airlines out, with taxpayer's money. And I wasn't comfortable with that."

Originally 95 families decided to sue. So far half have settled, leaving only 41 still going to court. The Shonteres' attorney claims the suit will reveal new evidence of airline negligence.

"The terrorists took the weakest link and took advantage of it," said Keith Franz, an attorney at Azrael, Gann and Franz. "But if that link had been strengthened before 911 then maybe this entire event would have been avoided."

American Airlines declined an interview but offered a statement, saying: "... we empathize with all families who lost loved ones ... 98 percent of the cases have been settled privately or through the VCF. American is committed to continue working with the families toward settlement."

When Assuras asked how much she thought about settling, Shontere replied, "My intention is to get answers and settling doesn't answer those questions."

"You think Angie would have wanted you to take this course?" Assuras asked.

"She cared so much about making things better," Shontere replied. "The answers would have been necessary for Angie."

Trials start in September and the Shonteres expect to be third in line.



January 17, 2010, New York Post, Final 9/11 holdout kin fight on for 'truth' trial, by Susan Edelman, Posted: 4:40 AM, Last Updated: 6:48 AM, January 20, 2010

One 9/11 family is still refusing to walk away from the truth.

The relatives of Mark Bavis -- a 31-year-old pro-hockey scout killed when terrorists slammed United Airlines Flight 175 into the World Trade Center -- are the last holdouts for a trial that they say will finally expose the airlines' gaping security failures.

"We can think of no greater honor for Mark than to see improvements of current security, and airlines and screening companies being held accountable for their failures and shortcomings," the family said in a statement to The Post.

The Massachusetts clan, the last family not to take millions of dollars for their silence, wants to reveal in stunning new detail how terrorists got past checkpoints at Boston's Logan International Airport with Mace, boxcutters and jagged knives, weapons used to kill a passenger and a crew member, and gain control of the cockpit.

"We hope they take the ball and run with it as far as they can," said Alyson Low, the sister of a flight attendant on American Airlines Flight 11, the first to hit the Twin Towers.

Nearly all the next-of-kin of 2,793 people killed by terrorists on Sept. 11, 2001, took payments averaging $1.8 million from the federal 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund.

Of the 96 families that chose instead to sue the airlines for negligence and wrongful death, 93 have since settled out of court for a total of $500 million, an average $5 million each.

And two of the last three, the families of flight attendant Sara Low, 28, and Flight 11 passenger Barbara Keating, 72, are finalizing deals.

Bavis, a Boston University hockey star, went on to coach at Harvard and join the NHL's LA Kings as a scout.

Deluged with donations after his death, his family launched the Mark Bavis Leadership Foundation to give scholarships.




August 27, 2010, McClatchy Tribune News Service, Fevered debate on mosque extends to families of Sept. 11 victims,

But not near that site, which they consider a solemn place that must be protected. Peter Shihadeh, who owns a carpet store in Ardmore, Pa., said the body of his sister, Bonnie Smithwick, was never found and could still be in the ground, "in whatever form.''

"To me, it is hallowed ground, and having a mosque there ... that hurts," he said.

The site is two blocks from the World Trade Center location.

Like some others, Shihadeh said that he believes Islam promotes violence and that the mosque's backers are at least "tangentially'' associated with extremists.

"If they were smart, they'd say, 'We're creating a lot of ill will with this; we'll move it a few blocks.' ... This isn't a question of is it going to be built, but of where it's going to be built."



September 10, 2010, New York Times, Among 9/11 Families, a Last Holdout Remains, by Benjamin Weiser,


Erik Jacobs for The New York Times

Michael and Mary Bavis, the brother and mother of Mark Bavis, who died in the Sept. 11 attacks, at a memorial in the Boston Public Garden on Thursday.

In the nine years since Sept. 11, 2001, the legal claims for people who were injured or killed in the attacks have almost entirely been resolved. Thousands of victims and families entered a special compensation fund created by Congress and were paid more than $7 billion; a much smaller group chose to file lawsuits, which have been settled over time for about $500 million.

All, that is, but one.

The holdout is the family of Mark Bavis, a passenger on United Airlines Flight 175, the second plane to strike the World Trade Center. Ever since the family filed suit in 2002, it has spurned efforts to negotiate, despite settlement attempts and a court mediation session.

They recognize that they could have obtained a quicker resolution by settling; they say the case is not about money. They say they want to prove in a public courtroom what they and their lawyers believe was a case of gross negligence by United and other defendants that allowed the hijackers to board Flight 175 and the attacks to occur.

The victim's brother, Michael, who was his identical twin, said in an interview that the family had never considered settling out of court. "Settlement has not been in our vocabulary," he said.

The family's lawyers said they filed papers on Friday proposing that a federal judge in Manhattan schedule a trial date.

Donald A. Migliori, a lawyer with Motley Rice, the firm that represents the Bavises and was involved in more than 50 other cases, said the firm's investigation had focused on failures at airport security checkpoints, flawed cockpit doors, inadequate training and how the industry ignored confidential government warnings about terrorist threats.

"The security breaches that day," he said, "were absolutely known to these defendants before 9/11, and should have been addressed before this could happen."

United and other defendants, including Boeing and a firm that ran the checkpoint at Logan International Airport in Boston, where Flight 175 took off, all denied liability. At one point, United offered not to contest liability in the case and proposed a trial only on the issue of damages. But the family objected, and the judge rejected the airline's motion.

This week, a United spokeswoman said, "This was a tragic event, and we are actively working to resolve this case." Boeing declined to comment.

The family’s push for a trial has ignited a debate among legal experts about the value of litigation as a forum for disclosure.

Michael Bavis, 40, said the family believed that only through a trial could the defendants be held accountable. 
"The public should know," he said. "We've got a responsibility to hold them to the fire."

Other victims' families praised the Bavises' stance. Julie Sweeney Roth, who sued over the death of her husband, Brian D. Sweeney, 38, also on Flight 175, said she had wanted to pursue a trial but ultimately remarried and settled her suit a few years ago.

"I always hoped," she said, "that there would be at least one — it only takes one family — to hold out and bring them to trial and get the answers that everyone deserves."

Mark Bavis was 31 when he died. He grew up in the Roslindale section of Boston, the son of a city police officer. He played ice hockey with his brother, Michael, first in high school and later at Boston University. The brothers were strong defensive players. "Mark was a gritty and competitive leader," recalled Michael, now an assistant coach at Boston University.

Mark Bavis eventually became an assistant coach at Brown and Harvard and was working as a scout for the Los Angeles Kings in the National Hockey League when he flew on Flight 175 to Los Angeles.

His brother, Michael, who said he flew 50,000 miles last year for his job, grew disenchanted with the aviation industry's approach to security, which he said was based on what is "fastest and cheapest."

He pointed to information turned up in the investigation by the Motley Rice law firm, as well as well-known episodes like the Nigerian man who was allowed to board a flight to Detroit last Christmas with explosives sewn into his underwear.

"The airlines," he said of the events on 9/11, 'had the most narrowly focused task, to make sure that illegal weapons cannot pass through that security checkpoint — box cutters, pepper spray, knives." He also cited the failures in cockpit security.

"Really in our hearts, it's been about how my brother was wronged," Mr. Bavis said, citing what he called the aviation industry's knowledge of the imminence of a terrorist threat and the vulnerability of the system.

"We feel like they made a conscious choice not to do anything about it," he said. "And that’s not acceptable."

Mr. Bavis said that while some might feel a settlement could bring closure, "For our family, receiving a settlement is not putting it behind us."

Mr. Bavis's mother, Mary, 79, said the family never wavered in its approach. "We discussed that really from the beginning — that we wanted answers," she said.

Mrs. Bavis and her six surviving children, among them a schoolteacher, a retired Army officer and a housewife, would meet or hold conference calls to discuss the case. "They didn’t make off-the-cuff decisions," said their lawyer, Mary F. Schiavo, a partner at Motley Rice. "Everything was very well thought out."

At one point, the family met with the judge, Alvin K. Hellerstein of Federal District Court in Manhattan, as part of mediation efforts. The family was polite but firm about not wanting to settle, Ms. Schiavo said, and the talk turned to hockey (the judge was also a fan).

In addition to the wrongful death suits, the judge has been trying to resolve property damage suits and health claims by more than 10,000 rescue and recovery workers at ground zero.

"It's rather extraordinary," Judge Hellerstein told lawyers in court last January, noting that they were still involved in the litigation so long after the attacks.

"But we know from reading the newspapers that the dust hasn't settled. Society still feels its wounds," he said, and the lawsuits "continue to move along." Some years ago, Judge Hellerstein told litigants that he believed lawsuits were "not good tools for investigation." But last year he made clear that the plaintiffs had a choice. "I've run my course as a judge not twisting arms to settle," he said. "If they want to have a trial, I'm going to give it to them."

The issue now permeates the debate over the Bavis case.

Kenneth R. Feinberg, the special master who administered the government's Victim Compensation Fund, said "the idea that a lawsuit will compel disclosure I think is unrealistic."

Mr. Feinberg said that when he talked years ago with families who chose to sue rather than seek compensation through the fund, they offered two major reasons for doing so. Some said a suit would make the airlines safer; others said a suit was the only way to find out what really happened and who was to blame, he recalled.

He said he told the families that suits were unlikely to achieve either goal. "If you want to know what really happened," he recalled saying, "go to the Senate and House intelligence committees; go to the special commission that President Bush set up. That's where critical information is going to be analyzed and disclosed."

Mark Dombroff, an aviation industry lawyer who was not involved in the Bavis case, concurred, saying that the litigation process was intended to resolve disputes, and in the case of wrongful death, "the only resolution the courts can give is money."

But Michael Sandel, the Harvard political theorist and author of "Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do?" said: "The primary purpose of civil courts is to settle claims and to provide damages and compensation. But courts are public institutions, and in this case it sounds as though the family cares more about having a voice than winning a settlement.

"That's a perfectly understandable human impulse: to express a public grievance, in hopes of holding an industry accountable," he said.

Alice Hoagland of Los Gatos, Calif., who received compensation through the victims' fund, said she understood that impulse. Ms. Hoagland's son, Mark Bingham, 31, was a passenger on United Flight 93 who fought back against the hijackers before that plane crashed in Shanksville, Pa. She called the Bavises "a brave group," and said she would attend if there were a trial. "I wouldn’t miss it," she said.

The Bavis family planned to gather Saturday at the 9/11 memorial in the Boston Public Garden and also to attend other events. This week, in discussing their lawsuit, the victim's mother, Mary, said: "I don’t know if we expected it would take this long. If justice is done, and if we get some answers, it'll all be worth waiting for."



February 25, 2011, Huffington Post, NY Sept. 11 wrongful death trial focus may narrow, by Larry Neumeister,

NEW YORK — A judge on Friday urged lawyers in the June trial of the only wrongful death case remaining from the Sept. 11 attacks to see if they can trim the number of defendants, but one lawyer cited lingering questions over how weapons made it onto the plane as a reason why a Boston airport might need to remain in the case.

U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein during a pretrial hearing invited an airport security company and the Massachusetts Port Authority to submit written arguments if they want to be eliminated as defendants in a case brought by the family of Mark Bavis, of West Newton, Mass., against United Airlines and airport security companies. A lawyer for the Port Authority promised to do so.

"I've been pushing for the elimination of defendants," Hellerstein said, adding that his efforts had been largely unsuccessful.

Bavis was a scout for the Los Angeles Kings hockey team when he died aboard United Flight 175 at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. The lawsuit brought by the Bavis family is the only one of 95 lawsuits brought on behalf of 96 victims in the attacks that has not been settled. All but 3 percent of the families of relatives killed in four planes taken over by terrorists on Sept. 11 chose to receive payments from a special fund Congress established. It distributed more than $7 billion to over 5,000 survivors.

Donald Migliori, a lawyer for the Bavis family, told Hellerstein it was necessary to keep the Massachusetts Port Authority, the operator of Boston's Logan International Airport, in the case because there may be disagreements over how the hijackers managed to get weapons on the plane.

"It may have come through catering. It may have come in from another source," Migliori said, citing the responsibility of the airport to keep its facilities secure.

The lawyer said at an earlier hearing that items that improperly made it onto hijacked planes that day included Mace, pepper spray, box cutters and a Leatherman utility tool.

The judge said the origination of the Mace was important because it was one of the means by which terrorists took control of the plane.

"What you're telling me is nobody has any real proof" as to how the items made it on board, the judge said.

The judge said he was looking forward to the trial, which was expected to last one month.

"Professionally, I think it's going to be extraordinary," he said. He added that he expected it would become a lesson for future law school students.



April 27, 2011, New York Times, A 9/11 Judge Sets a Month as Time Limit for a Trial, by Benjamin Weiser, page A1,

For almost nine years, the family of Mark Bavis, a passenger on the second plane to hit the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, has been waiting for a trial in a wrongful-death lawsuit it filed against United Airlinesand other defendants.

The family, determined to prove what it believes was negligence, has resisted attempts to settle. Theirs isthe last wrongful-death action still pending of more than 90 filed after the attacks. Thousands of other families avoided court and received payments through a victims’ compensation fund.

But now, after this seemingly endless run-up, with a trial scheduled for later this year, the judge, Alvin K. Hellerstein of Federal District Court in Manhattan, has set a time limit. In a highly unusual move, Judge Hellerstein will restrict each side to the same number of hours — in one estimate, 50 to 60 — to present its case, and time the trial like a speed chess match.

“The time is going to be expressed not in days, but in minutes,” Judge Hellerstein has said in court. Each side’s clock will start ticking whenever its lawyer rises to question or cross-examine a witness, or to argue before the jury — “everything the party wishes to do from openings through summations,” he said.

Judge Hellerstein has said the trial, the only one stemming from the terror attacks, will last a month.

The judge has made it clear that he is seeking to avoid the kind of trial that rolls on interminably as the details, minutiae and technical arguments pile up, and wants to keep the jury focused and interested. “You know that once the jury gets bored with your presentation,” he has told the parties, “you’ve lost significant power of persuasion.”

But his approach has prompted grumbling among the lawyers on both sides in a case where, despite the passage of time, emotions remain raw.

Donald A. Migliori, a lawyer for the Bavises, said limiting the trial to one month and dividing the time equally — he made the 50- to 60-hour estimate — was ambitious for a case of such magnitude, particularly for his client, the plaintiff, who bears the burden of proof. The lawsuit contends that the hijackers were able to board United Airlines Flight 175 in Boston because of negligence by United and other defendants, which include an airport security firm.

Erik Jacobs for The New York Times

Mark Bavis was on the United Airlines plane that hit the World Trade Center. His twin brother, Mike, and their mother, Mary, at a Sept. 11 memorial in Boston last fall, are suing the airline.


Michael Appleton for The New York Times

Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein of Federal District Court, center, will oversee the only case stemming from the 9/11 attacks to go to trial.
“The person that is affected the most is my client,” Mr. Migliori said. “We’re talking about millions of pages of documents. We’re talking about distilling one of the most important stories in American history.”

A lawyer for United, meanwhile, complained in a letter that splitting the trial’s time 50-50 between the plaintiff and the defendants “would be unfair” because separate defendants may make different arguments.

The lawyer, Michael R. Feagley, proposed that the judge allocate 60 percent of the trial’s time to the defendants, which he said would still leave the Bavis family “far more time than any single defendant.”

The judge, who declined to discuss his plan, has a reputation as a skilled jurist. He has overseen the litigation that followed the 9/11 attacks, including the resolution of thousands of health claims, and the other wrongful-death suits.

In a hearing in February, he refused to alter his formula. “At the end of the day,” he said, a 50-50 split was as good “an approximation of justice as I could figure.”

The timing of all aspects of a trial is rare.

“I’m sure if I shared this with my friends who are litigators, they’d be horrified,” said Stephen L. Carter, the Yale law professor.

Professor Carter said the judge’s idea sounded logical and might speed the pace of a trial. But, he said, he could imagine a situation in which one party’s burden was much greater than the other’s. “The judge would have to take care to ensure that what looks like equal time is actually not unfair to one side,” he said.

Mr. Migliori, the family’s lawyer, said he anticipated hard decisions during the trial. “You may have to say, ‘I’ve got to drop this middle witness because I only have seven trial hours left.’ ” But he said his legal team was prepared to meet the time challenges. The United lawyer, Mr. Feagley, would not comment.

Judge Hellerstein has said he once used the technique in a patent case. It was also used in the libel suit by Gen. William C. Westmoreland against CBS in the 1980s. In that case, Judge Pierre N. Leval, then of Federal District Court, gave each side 150 hours to present evidence, and two hours each for arguments in trial to the jury. “He had the stopwatch in his hand,” David M. Dorsen, a Westmoreland lawyer, recalled. “You could see him click it.”

The case was ultimately resolved after about four months before it went to the jury. David Boies, the CBS lawyer, who has since been involved in a few other timed trials, said the technique tended to “force the lawyers to focus on what’s important.”

Judge Leval, now an appellate judge, recalled that he set the time limits because of the huge number of potential witnesses in such an emotional case. “I feared that this might be a trial that would go on forever,” he said.

In a 2004 trial over a city demolition, the imposition of time limits became an unsuccessful ground for appeal.

The judge, Lewis A. Kaplan, had given both parties 11 hours to present their cases. He later gave each side three more.

But when the plaintiff’s lawyer, Barry S. Gedan, with 47 minutes left, asked for more time so he could present a deposition and still have 30 minutes for a summation, Judge Kaplan said, “The answer is you have 47 minutes to use however you wish.”

Fourteen minutes into Mr. Gedan’s reading of the deposition to the jury, the judge reminded him of how much time he had used. That meant he had only three minutes left — if he still wanted a 30-minute summation.

“Judge, this is killing me,” Mr. Gedan replied. “I am going to have a heart attack trying to read that fast.”

Mr. Gedan’s client, who had sought $3.1 million, was awarded only nominal damages. On appeal, Mr. Gedan cited, among other issues, “the disastrous impact” of the time limits.

“Arbitrary time limits yield arbitrary justice,” he said recently. “Courtroom clocks should not supplant the right to a fair trial.”

The case was affirmed on appeal, including the judge’s use of time limits.



April 28, 2011, New York Magazine, Judge Sets a One Month Deadline in 9/11 Wrongful Death Case, By Julie Gerstein,

Mark Bavis was a passenger on the second plane that hit the World Trade Center on September 11th. His family have waited nine years to sue United Airlines for wrongful death and have refused to settle the case out of court, unlike other families affected by the disaster. Their suit is the last pending lawsuit related to the events of September 11th, and Federal Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein has made the rare move of putting a month limit on the length of the trial in order to expedite a judgment. Each side will have between 50 and 60 hours to present its case. “The time is going to be expressed not in days, but in minutes,” explained Hellerstein. “Everything the party wishes to do from openings through summations.”

Both the prosecution and defense have expressed their unhappiness with Hellerstein's decision. “The person that is affected the most is my client,” said Donald Migliori, the lawyer for the Bavis family. “We’re talking about millions of pages of documents. We’re talking about distilling one of the most important stories in American history.” And legal experts aren't too thrilled, either. “I’m sure if I shared this with my friends who are litigators, they’d be horrified,” said Yale law professor Stephen L. Carter.



May 02, 2011, Mainline Media News, Video: Brother of 9/11 victim says 'This is a great day', by Cheryl Allison,


Peter Shihadeh in his store. Photo/video by Pete Bannan.

Peter Shihadeh was at Citizens Bank Park watching the Phillies battle the Mets into overtime Sunday night when the news started spreading through the stadium.

"There was a sort of murmuring throughout the crowd," he said by phone from the family's store in Ardmore on Monday. "My wife asked the man sitting in front of us what was going on. She turned to me and said, 'He thinks Osama bin Laden is dead.'"

That was how Shihadeh, of Bryn Mawr, learned that the nearly 10-year-long hunt for the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks that killed his sister, Bonnie Shihadeh Smithwick, and nearly 3,000 others was over.

"I couldn't believe it. It was just too good to be true. I can't remember ever being as ebullient as I have been" in the hours since, Shihadeh said.

Smithwick, an alumna of Harriton High School, was 54 and working as the manager of an investment fund for the Fred Alger Investment Co. in the World Trade Center that brilliant fall day in 2001.

The company had offices on the 93rd floor of the North Tower, the floor where the first plane hit. Her remains were never found.

In the years since, her brother said he had "never given up" that bin Laden, who was killed in a raid by U.S. special forces, would, as President Barack Obama said in his address to the country, be brought to justice. "It just wasn't something I was hoping for," he said.

People often talk in situations of the death of a loved one in such violence about finding closure in the death or capture of those responsible, Shihadeh agreed. "I absolutely feel that," he said.

For Shihadeh, the pain of that day nearly 10 years ago clearly has not faded. He said he never attended any of the ceremonies held on anniversaries of the attacks.

"I was very reluctant,” he said. "I hate Sept. 11. I don’t like Sept. 10 either. For me, Sept. 12 is like Christmas,  just to be done with it."

He still recalls, without a moment's hesitation, the words of the message Smithwick had been trying to leave when she called her husband, Jim, who worked for Merrill Lynch in another building at the World Trade Center, moments after the plane hit her floor. "We have a problem here. I must talk to Jim," she had told his secretary.

"And then the phone went dead," Shihadeh said. Although the family hoped against hope for the next few days that, having survived the initial impact, she might still be alive, her brother said, "We think now that was when the jet fuel exploded."

That day wasn’t the end of the tragedy for Smithwick’s family. About a year later, Jim Smithwick died in his sleep of a massive heart attack.

In the months after the attacks, Shihadeh's brother-in-law had been worried there would be more terrorist strikes. "He would never take the subway" again, Shihadeh recalled. "As athletic and tough as he was, [Sept. 11] took a physical and emotional toll."

When he heard the news Sunday night, Shihadeh couldn't help taking solace in the fact that the man who had been described as "the most wanted man in the world" met his fate "at the hands of Americans," even more so because they were Navy SEALs, the same special military unit with which Jim Smithwick had once served.

"I can tell you I feel his joy today that bin Laden was taken out by SEALs," he said.

The Smithwicks had two children. Their son, also named Jim, who was a 20-year-old college student at the time, "struggled with" the loss, though he is doing well now as a business owner, Shihadeh said. Their daughter, Katherine, then 15, has followed her parents' lead into a financial career.

Shihadeh said he had spoken to both his nephew and niece, and that they had been "texting repeatedly" through the night.

He recalls in particular, the text he got not long after midnight, when he reached Katherine. "I asked her, 'How did you feel when you heard the news?'"

Shihadeh thinks her reply probably speaks for most of the country.

"I'm not entirely sure. I'm still processing it," she answered, and then wrote, "I'm shocked, I'm excited and I'm scared."

Even among the celebrations, Shihadeh explained, "There's definitely that vulnerability that remains."



May 02, 2011, Mainline Media News, Bin Laden dead, president confirms,

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama says Osama bin Laden, the glowering mastermind behind the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks that killed thousands of Americans, was killed in an operation led by the United States.

A small team of Americans carried out the attack and took custody of bin Laden's remains, the president said Sunday in a dramatic late-night statement at the White House.

Christopher Robert Clarke a resident of Villanova was one of the victims of the World Trade Center destruction. He was a 34 year old bond trader. His body was never recovered.

Also killed on 9-11 was Bonnie Shihadeh Smithwick formerly of Ardmore. Graduate of Harriton High School. Her family owned Shihadeh rugs in Ardmore.



Fall, 2011, Bucknell Magazine, Remembering the Fallen, by Rhonda K. Miller,

FROM THE CIVIL WAR TO 9/11, BUCKNELL MEMORIALS HONOR THE SPIRIT OF SACRIFICE,

Three or four days following the September 11 attacks, a commercial jet slowly crept across the sky above the Lansdale, Pa., train station. It was one of the first commercial planes airborne after that dreadful day, and its eerily quiet movement gave the Philadelphia commuters pause. The flight was a reminder that somehow, someway, life would carry on.

As the University commemorated the 10th anniversary of 9/11, many of us remembered where we were when the Twin Towers and the Pentagon were struck, just as our ancestors may have recalled the exact time and location when they heard the nation was at war with itself 150 years ago. Individual grief takes many forms, but collective grief and remembrance provide a chance to bring our reflections together — a time to gather for solace, to celebrate the lives of those lost and find meaning in what can be incomprehensible tragedy.

"There is a human need to make sense of things that seem senseless," says Alexander Riley, an associate professor of sociologyat Bucknell whose research focuses on the tributes left at the Flight 93 crash site in Shanksville, Pa. "Memorials are an important space to correctly inform people, to give them a well-rounded view of what happened. Part of our cultural necessity is to respond and provide meaning to catastrophic events."

THE CAMPUS RESPONDS

Several events marked Bucknell's commemoration of the 10th anniversary of 9/11, says Amy Badal, associate dean of students. A Remembrance Ceremony was held Sunday, Sept. 11, in Trout Auditorium. President John Bravman spoke, along with others, and the Rooke Chapel Choir and Beyond Unison sang. American flag pins were distributed to participants.

Students also sold "Always Remember" t-shirts with profits going to VOICES of September 11th, a nonprofit organization founded by Mary Fetchet P'99, P'04, P'11, whose son Brad Fetchet '99 died in the attacks, Badal says. In addition to Fetchet, four other alumni and one parent (of students and alumni in 2001) were lost during 9/11, including Joseph Berry P'96, P'03;Bonnie Shihadeh Smithwick '68; Keith Coleman '90; and Mark McGinly '97.

The Bucknell Conservatives Club started a tradition of planting American flags honoring the victims of 9/11. Again this year on the 10th anniversary, 2,996 flags stood on the Elaine Langone Center lawn. In the past, flags were sponsored for $1 with proceeds supporting wounded Marines returning from Iraq and Afghanistan through the Semper Fi Fund.



Last year, the University marked 9/11 by encouraging students to participate in community service projects for a week in honor of those lost. This year, students volunteered at the Red Cross, helping organize emergencies supplies. Members of Lambda Chi fraternity led a project to make fleece blankets for local children in hospitals and shelters.



July 27, 2011, New York Times, Judge May Let 9/11 Lawsuit Pursue Damages for Suffering on Doomed Flight,

The final minutes of the passengers on United Airlines Flight 175, the second plane to strike the World Trade Center, were sheer horror, as reported in calls to the ground. The hijackers used pepper spray and knives. A flight attendant had been stabbed; both pilots had been killed.

"Passengers are throwing up and getting sick," one man said in a call to his father. "I think we are going down."

What one passenger, Mark Bavis, 31, felt as the hijacking unfolded is unknown, but his family, which sued United, asked a federal judge in Manhattan to allow them to recover damages not only for his death, but also for those terrifying last moments of his life — "21 minutes of terror," as the judge put it.

On Wednesday, the judge, Alvin K. Hellerstein of Federal District Court, said that he would probably allow Mr. Bavis’s mother, Mary, the plaintiff, to seek such damages, despite strenuous objections by United, which had argued that she was not entitled to such a recovery under the law of Massachusetts, where Mr. Bavis lived.

Judge Hellerstein listened to arguments by lawyers for the family and United, and said his inclination was to allow the jury to come up with “a figure for pain and suffering” through the entire 21-minute period.

"My thinking is tending toward allowing terror damages," Judge Hellerstein said.

The Bavis lawsuit has been widely watched over the nearly 10 years since it was filed. Scheduled for trial in November, the case would be the only wrongful-death lawsuit stemming from Sept. 11, 2001, to go to trial.

Thousands of others received a total of more than $7 billion in compensation through a special fund created by Congress. A smaller group of just under 100 families and victims filed lawsuits; those cases have been settled for about $500 million.

The Bavis family has been the only holdout; its members have said that they never considered settling. They contend that the five hijackers who boarded Flight 175 at Logan International Airport in Boston were able to do so only because of gross negligence by United and a security firm, Huntleigh USA, that had been hired to run the checkpoint.

At Wednesday's hearing, Judge Hellerstein examined a series of legal issues, and dismissed the suit against a third defendant, the Massachusetts Port Authority, which operates Logan.

He said the trial would focus on whether there had been negligence in screening, which he said was the responsibility of United and Huntleigh. The defendants have all denied liability.

"The plaintiffs will have to prove that the way that the terrorists got stuff aboard is the way that everybody gets stuff aboard, that is, through screening," the judge said.

Previewing the trial, he said that he and the jurors would have to be educated about the process. The jury "will have to find that it was or was not a proper exercise of due care by United with regard to the terrorists, and with regard to the weapons they had," the judge said.

"I don't know how the terrorists got through," he said. "I don't know how the weapons got through. And I don't know if negligence is the only explanation."

Michael R. Feagley, a lawyer for United, made it clear that the defendants believed the lawsuit was without merit. "Sometimes the facts and the law end up in a place where plaintiff cannot win its case," he said, "and I think this is one such instance."

On the damages issue, Donald A. Migliori, a lawyer for the family, cited not only the calls to the ground, which have been detailed in the 9/11 commission report, but also analysis of the plane's violent final moments, as passengers were thrown about, increasing their fear and expectation of death.

"This plane was heading into New York at an exceptional rate of descent," he said, "and at impact was going almost 600 miles an hour with an erratic flight pattern."

United's lawyers, however, argued in legal papers that Massachusetts law allowed recoveries only for "conscious suffering resulting from the same injury" that caused death. They said that there was no evidence — through calls by him or descriptions from others — that showed Mr. Bavis "was injured in any way" before the plane hit the tower.

Because his death from the crash was "instantaneous," they added, the plaintiff could not recover damages for "conscious pain and suffering" before that moment.

Two of Mr. Bavis’s brothers, Michael and Patrick, attended the hearing, and afterward, Michael, Mark's identical twin, said the experience was stressful and emotional. "It was harder than I imagined," he said.

But he added that he felt positive because Judge Hellerstein seemed to keep an open mind, and in his view, recognized the importance of having the story of Flight 175 told in the courtroom. "This is my brother's voice, this trial," Michael Bavis said.



August 3, 2011, Discovery News, 9/11 Victim Family Suing For Suffering, by Benjamin Radford,

A federal judge will allow the mother of a man killed in one of the Twin Tower plane crashes to sue United Airlines for her son's fear and suffering before his death. It is slated to be the only wrongful-death lawsuit stemming from the September 11 attacks to go to trial.

A New York Times story noted,
What one passenger, Mark Bavis, 31, felt as the hijacking unfolded is unknown, but his family, which sued United, asked a federal judge in Manhattan to allow them to recover damages not only for his death, but also for those terrifying last moments of his life -- "21 minutes of terror," as the judge put it.... The Bavis lawsuit has been widely watched over the nearly 10 years since it was filed.
Lawyers for United Airlines dismissed the claim, stating that the law only allowed for "conscious suffering resulting from the same injury" that caused death, and that since Bavis died instantly in the crash there was no pain and suffering due.

The idea of victim compensation is a relatively new one. Historically when disaster struck (say a house burned down, or an avalanche buried a small town) people turned to family and neighbors (or, later insurance companies) for help.

While the government might help rebuild public roads or utilities, it was not the government's responsibility to rebuild private citizens' homes or property or pay them for their loss -- and victims certainly never expected to be paid for a dead family member's fear or suffering.

NEWS: 9/11 Mastermind Bin Laden Killed

Take the example of Todd Beamer, who famously said "Let's roll!" as he and others on September 11's doomed Flight 93 tried to retake control of their hijacked plane. It's likely everyone aboard the flight was scared, but Beamer and his fellow mutinying passengers clearly overcame that fear with bravery.

They didn't necessarily know they were going to die, or crash; they presumably thought they had a chance at retaking control of the plane and landing safely. Many believe that Beamer and his crew drove the flight into the ground to prevent the plane from being used as a bomb, though the 9/11 Commission investigation concluded that hijackers were in control of the plane when it crashed.

In either event, should Beamer's widow be entitled to less compensation because her husband was not incapacitated by fear and terror?

The truth is, of course, that it's impossible to know what anyone's last moments were truly like in an airplane crash. Some passengers may have been drunk, asleep, knocked unconscious, or even annoyed at the disruption but not recognizing the gravity of the situation.

NEWS: 9/11 Imprint Persists in American Brains, Bodies

Canada has faced similar issues. Earlier this year a report on the Air India 182 disaster, in which a bomb exploded en route from Toronto to India, called for symbolic compensation, so-called "ex gratia" payments to family members of the victims who died. These payments, usually ranging from $20,000 to $25,000 per person, are offered by the government without any admission of legal liability.

The debate brings up thorny issues of heroism. Who, exactly is a hero, and why? There have been several bills introduced over the years to award the nation's highest civilian award, the Congressional Medal of Honor, to the passengers and crew of Flight 93.

Most people would agree that Todd Beamer was a hero, but many suggest that everyone who died in the September 11, 2001, attacks -- all nearly 3,000 people -- are heroes. Yet others find that idea insulting: if everyone's a hero, then no one's a hero; if both Beamer and a passenger who did not try and attack the hijackers are equally honored, what's the point?

It's indisputable that the terrorists were to blame for the deaths on September 11 (unless you're a conspiracy theorist and also blame the Bush administration). But the Bavis family is claiming that United Airlines and a security firm operating the airport checkpoints were guilty of gross negligence.

They claim that the only possible way that the terrorists could have gotten their weapons on board (and ultimately killed Bavis and others) is if someone wasn't doing their job.

Yet no system in the world is foolproof, and a security breach (even one with dire consequences) does not necessarily indicate negligence. This may be a tough case to win, and if successful raises other issues.

How much is a dead person's fear or mental suffering worth? Should only family members be able to collect money? Why not friends or ex-spouses? And what about ordinary aircraft accidents? Those can certainly be terrifying; should airlines be liable for any mental anguish and fear caused by the accident? Should auto manufacturers be financially responsible for any fear that car accident victims feel?

Where do we draw the line?





August 29, 2011, GateHouse News Service / Stuttgart Daily Leader, Massachusetts family presses 9/11 case against airline, By David Riley,


ASHLAND, Mass. — An Ashland man whose 72-year-old mother was killed in the World Trade Center terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, is fighting for public access to nearly a million pages of confidential documents on 9/11 airline security.

Paul Keating's family is one of only three who lost relatives in the attacks still suing airlines and their security contractors, accusing them of negligence.

The families argued this week for the release of depositions and documents in the case in federal court in New York. That evidence is confidential.

Keating, whose mother, Barbara, was killed on American Airlines Flight 11, said his family wants to find out and make public details of how 19 hijackers got past checkpoints and aboard four airplanes.

"We'd like to make sure it doesn't happen again," he said. "If all the evidence is covered up, how is that going to happen?"

Keating said he believes there is "massive" evidence of airline security failures. He said he cannot discuss specifics while the suit is pending.

"We just don't care about the money," Keating, 45, said. "We want a trial. We want the evidence."

The judge in the lawsuit did not rule on whether to make the documents public, according to Motley Rice, a law firm representing the three families. But the judge indicated he may deny the motion, partly because of the time it would take to review all the evidence and determine what should remain confidential, the law firm said in a written statement.

An attorney for the defendants said it would be unfair to make the evidence public before a trial, especially because much of it was turned over with the understanding it was confidential, according to wire reports.

The New York Times Co. and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press are backing the families' request.

Keating, who attended court this week, said he is disappointed the documents may remain confidential. Keeping up with the lawsuit as it moves slowly through the court process has been tedious and frustrating, he said.

"It's not difficult. It's painful, and there's a difference between the two," Keating said. "It's not difficult to do it if it means we're doing the right thing for the right reasons. It's painful because you constantly have to bring up the details of that day, over and over again."

Barbara Keating and her late husband, Bill, raised their five children in Framingham, near Framingham State College. She worked for what was then the South Middlesex Association for Retarded Citizens, Keating said, training people with disabilities to live and work independently.

She later became the first executive director of Big Brothers, Big Sisters of South Middlesex on Union Avenue in Framingham, Keating said. In her retirement, she lived on the Cape, but continued volunteer work, driving cancer patients to the hospital, he said.

"She was funny and tough," Keating said. "Very old school."

Barbara Keating ultimately moved to Palm Springs. In 2001, she visited grandchildren back in Massachusetts and was flying back to California on Sept. 11. Hijackers crashed her plane into the north tower of the World Trade Center.

"She had just stayed with us," Keating said.

His family opted at the time not to accept money from the taxpayer-funded Sept. 11 Victims Compensation Fund, which would have meant waiving the right to sue. While the fund made sense for many people, the public cannot learn from what exactly happened if no one sues, he said.

As part of buying an airline ticket, Keating said passengers entered a contract with the airlines to be delivered to a destination safely.

"They have to protect you against mechanical failure, terrorism and hijacking," he said. "To say that I believe our case is solid, from a negligence standpoint, in my opinion would be an understatement."

Keating said his family crossed paths with aviation attorney Mary Schiavo, former inspector general of the U.S. Transportation Department, who was looking to represent families of 9/11 airline passenger victims.

"She was convinced, based on her experience in the aviation industry, there was more than meets the eye," Keating said.

Schiavo later joined Motley Rice, known for its successful class-action suits against tobacco companies, among other things. Keating said the firm launched a unique investigation, focusing in more detail on airline security than any other.

The evidence, Keating said, "would literally make you sick."

More than 90 families initially sued, but the vast majority have since settled out of court. The other remaining plaintiffs are the families of Mark Bavis of West Newton, and flight attendant Sara Low. Keating's suit is filed in the name of his brother, Michael, of Worcester.

"We're here," Keating said. "We're going to stick it out."

MetroWest Daily News writer David Riley can be reached at 508-626-3919 or driley@cnc.com.
PDF: Read the Keating family's complaint



September 06, 2011, Bucknell University, Bucknell to mark 9/11 anniversary with ceremony and service,
by Kathryn Kopchik,

LEWISBURG, Pa. — Bucknell University will mark the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, with a number of events.

Bucknell President John Bravman will give remarks at the Remembrance Ceremony to be held Sunday, Sept. 11, at 2 p.m. on the Science Quad, located between Olin Science and Dana Engineering buildings. [rain location: Trout Auditorium, Vaughan Literature Building]

Bucknell students will read biographies of the four Bucknell alumni who died in the attacks on the World Trade Center: Bonnie Shihadeh Smithwick, who graduated in 1968; Keith Coleman, a 1990 graduate; Mark McGinly '97; and Brad Fetchet '99.

The Bucknell Student Government will present a plaque to be attached to a custom-made stone in the Memorial Garden east of Rooke Chapel. The ceremony will include performances by two student choral groups, the Rooke Chapel Choir and Beyond Unison.

The Bucknell University Conservatives Club will continue its tradition of placing 2,996 flags uphill of the Elaine Langone Center.

Bucknell students are creating a large American flag where the campus community can sign their names or leave an 'in memory' note. The flag will hang in the Elaine Langone Center Hearth Space. In addition, American flag pins will be distributed in the student center.

T-shirts designed by recent Bucknell graduate Daniel Murphy will sell for $12 each with proceeds benefiting the VOICES of September 11thorganization. Founded by Mary Fetchet, parent of Brad Fetchet '99, VOICES provides information, resources and support programs to meet the evolving needs of the 9/11 families, survivors, rescue and recovery workers.

The Bucknell Office of Civic Engagement is sponsoring service programs in recognition of the National Day of Service. "Bucknell students will work with the Red Cross on Sept. 12, 13 and 14, helping to organize emergency supplies. Members of Lambda Chi fraternity are leading a project to make fleece blankets for local children in hospitals or in shelters," said Lynn Pierson, assistant director of community service at Bucknell.

For distribution to people in need in the local community, Bucknell students have been invited to create Friendship Boxes containing health and personal items such as toothbrushes, soap, shampoo and bandages, as well as school supplies including pencils, pens and crayons, notebooks, tablets and rulers.

Contact: Division of Communications



September 11, 2011, 9-11 Heroes, Bonnie S. Smithwick,
54 years old. Residence: Quogue, N.Y.
Died in World Trade Center

5 Total Comments
Page: 1 of 1

Bonnie was a close and dear college friend at Bucknell University. During our four years there we spent countless hours together as sorority sisters living in the dorm with a group of friends. Bonnie was a school cheerleader and was always there to cheer on and encourage her group of friends. Sometimes we studied together, double dated, played cards, shared all those special moments of college life. A little later she was a bridesmaid in my wedding. We continued to keep in touch as we both started families, although we saw less of each other as we got busier and busier. I will always remember Bonnie as that very special person who was a smart woman, loving mother and wife, and true friend. I miss her.

*** Posted by Sue Lankford on 2011-09-11 ***

Her kindnesses at Bucknell are always remembered-a very gentle soul.

*** Posted by Murgy Irish on 2011-09-11 ***

It was only recently that I learned that Bonnie had died in the World Trade Center. I knew her in her young years. Now I think of her frequently. A bright and beautiful star.. I am sure she gave much to all the people that entered her life. I send my condolences to her family. Love, Toni

*** Posted by Toni Wiegman Doilneyon 2011-09-10 ***

Bonnie was one of those people who stood out from others but never stood apart. She was so energetic and so positive that it brought everyone else up a notch or two. Bonnie is missed everyday by all who knew her.

*** Posted by Steve Shihadeh on 2011-09-08 ***

I was an associate of Bonnie's at IBM. We were fellow marketing representatives in the NY Brokerage branch office. I knew her as Bonnie Shihadeh. I think of her often with fond memories of her smile, her friendliness and intelligence.

*** Posted by Fredric Saunders on 2011-05-05 ***



September 7, 2011, Williamsport Sun Gazette, County and regional roundup of 9/11 events, by Mark Maroney, mmaroney@sungazette.com

The 10th anniversary of the day when America was attacked by terrorists is Sunday, and American flags should be displayed at half-staff from sunrise to sunset, according to a federal law passed by Congress and signed by former President George W. Bush.

There's no shortage of 9/11 anniversary events on the local calendar.

A World Trade Center display in Lock Haven opens Thursday and continues through Sept. 19.

And one of the largest gatherings is expected to be the thousands of motorcyclists and their passengers taking part in the 9/11 Memorial Coalition Ride, which leaves at 4 p.m. Sunday from the Clinton Township Volunteer Fire Co. grounds.

Firefighters will serve breakfast there at 8 a.m., followed by a 10:30 a.m. worship service. Several guest speakers are to be in attendance leading up to the event, including Williamsport Mayor Gabriel J. Campana, who said he will speak about 2:45 p.m.

A memorial service will be held following the ride, said Thomas "Tank" Baird, ride organizer and a coalition founder.

Other tributes listed in chronological order as they would take place, include:

* A 14-minute-long commemorative choral performance at 9:30 a.m. at St. James Episcopal Church, 215 S. Main St., Muncy. The piece, "Still, In Remembrance," is by Jackson Hill, director of music at the church.

* A 9/11 Service at the Draper Baptist Church, 22 Draper Road, Wellsboro, at 9:30 a.m. and luncheon at 11 a.m. Call by Thursday to make reservations for the luncheon at 724-5831 and leave a message.

* A "Patriot Day Service" at 10 a.m. at Newberry Lions Park on Diamond Street. Sponsored by Newberry Church of Christ. Tribute to honor city and area police, firefighters and emergency dispatchers. A plaque commending the civil servants will be presented. A tent capable of seating up to 500 people has been rented for that day.

* Construction Specialties Inc., 6696 Route 405, Muncy, holds 9/11 ceremony at 1 p.m. on the front lawn. Plans include bagpipe and vocal solos, 21-gun salute with participation from members of the Korean War Veterans of Lycoming County and the Citizens Fire Company No. 2 in South Williamsport. The event will also include the displaying of an American flag that had flown over the Pentagon while it was being rebuilt. The ceremony will be held rain or shine.

* Moments of silence will be offered in remembrance by those filling care packages for Goodies For Our Troops at 1:30, 2:30 and 3:30 p.m. at the Park Hill Manor, Grant and Walnut streets, Wellsboro.

Bucknell University, Lewisburg, will mark the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks with a number of events. Bucknell President John Bravman will give remarks at the Remembrance Ceremony to be held at 2 p.m. on the Science Quad, located between Olin Science and Dana Engineering buildings. Bucknell students will read biographies of the four Bucknell alumni who died in the attacks on the World Trade Center: Bonnie Shihadeh Smithwick, who graduated in 1968; Keith Coleman, a 1990 graduate; Mark McGinly '97; and Brad Fetchet '99.

The Bucknell Student Government will present a plaque to be attached to a custom-made stone in the Memorial Garden east of Rooke Chapel. The ceremony will include performances by two student choral groups, the Rooke Chapel Choir and Beyond Unison.

The Bucknell University Conservatives Club will continue its tradition of placing 2,996 flags uphill of the Elaine Langone Center.

Bucknell students are creating a large American flag where the campus community can sign their names or leave an 'in memory' note. The flag will hang in the Elaine Langone Center Hearth Space. In addition, American flag pins will be distributed in the student center.

T-shirts designed by recent Bucknell graduate Daniel Murphy will sell for $12 each with proceeds benefiting the VOICES of September 11th organization. Founded by Mary Fetchet, parent of Brad Fetchet '99, VOICES provides information, resources and support programs to meet the evolving needs of the 9/11 families, survivors, rescue and recovery workers.

The Bucknell Office of Civic Engagement is sponsoring service programs in recognition of the National Day of Service. "Bucknell students will work with the Red Cross on Sept. 12, 13 and 14, helping to organize emergency supplies. Members of Lambda Chi fraternity are leading a project to make fleece blankets for local children in hospitals or in shelters," said Lynn Pierson, assistant director of community service at Bucknell.

For distribution to people in need in the local community, Bucknell students have been invited to create Friendship Boxes containing health and personal items such as toothbrushes, soap, shampoo and bandages, as well as school supplies including pencils, pens and crayons, notebooks, tablets and rulers.

Other regional events

* Recently retired Pennsylvania State Police Lt. Richard G. "Rick" Sethman will speak at a ceremony of remembrance at the Mansfield Veterans Park to at 2 p.m. Sethman, who served as Commander of Troop B Criminal Investigation Section in Washington, PA for 12 years prior to his retirement, was a first responder to the crash of United Airlines Flight 93 in Somerset County. Additional parking available across the Ellen Run Bridge on Brooklyn Street.

* Boy Scout Troop 69 and Pack 2059 of Arnot will hold a 9/11 spaghetti dinner at the Blossburg Firehall at 5 p.m. A replica of the Twin Towers constructed by the scouts will be on display.

* Service in observance at Wellsboro First Baptist Church, Central Avenue and Pearl Street, Wellsboro, 4 p.m.

* A 9/11 "Night of Remembrance" will be sponsored by the Jersey Shore Area Ministerium in cooperation with various community organizations at 6 p.m. at the Jersey Shore High School football stadium. In the event of inclement weather, the program will be moved to the Jersey Shore Middle School auditorium on Thompson Street. The ceremony gives tribute to those who lost their lives in New York City, Washington, D.C. and in Somerset County and a special tribute to military, firefighters, police and other emergency personal. Members of the military and local emergency personal are urged to attend in uniform.

Various ministers from area churches will take part as well as local dignitaries. There will be special music and prayers for the families of those lost that day.

* Ice cream social and worship service starting at 6 p.m. at St. John's-Newberry United Methodist Church, 2101 Newberry St. Games, ice cream and worship service to commemorate the anniversary.

* The World Trade Center "America's Lost Treasure" exhibit will be on display at the Annie Halenbake Ross Library in Lock Haven, from Thursday to Sept. 19. The display was developed by Rob and Sue Chapin of Flemington.



September 11, 2011, New York Times, The Years of Shame, by Paul Krugman,

Is it just me, or are the 9/11 commemorations oddly subdued?

Actually, I don't think it's me, and it's not really that odd.

What happened after 9/11 — and I think even people on the right know this, whether they admit it or not — was deeply shameful. The atrocity should have been a unifying event, but instead it became a wedge issue. Fake heroes like Bernie Kerik, Rudy Giuliani, and, yes, George W. Bush raced to cash in on the horror. And then the attack was used to justify an unrelated war the neocons wanted to fight, for all the wrong reasons.

A lot of other people behaved badly. How many of our professional pundits — people who should have understood very well what was happening — took the easy way out, turning a blind eye to the corruption and lending their support to the hijacking of the atrocity?

The memory of 9/11 has been irrevocably poisoned; it has become an occasion for shame. And in its heart, the nation knows it.

I'm not going to allow comments on this post, for obvious reasons.



September 11, 2011, Newsday, 9/11 Anniversary: A decade laterBonnie Shihadeh Smithwick,

Long Island remembers

Bonnie Shihadeh Smithwick
Age: 53
Employer: Fred Alger Management
Place of death: Tower One
Community: Quogue
County: Suffolk




September 19, 2011, New York Times, Family and United Airlines Settle Last 9/11 Wrongful-Death Lawsuit, by Benjamin Weiser,

The last remaining wrongful-death lawsuit stemming from the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks has been resolved, according to a lawyer for the victim’s family and court papers filed on Monday.

The settlement brings to an end a wrenching legal battle in Federal District Court in Manhattan, where lawsuits had been filed on behalf of 85 people who were killed in the attacks and an additional 11 who were injured, court records show.

All of those lawsuits had since been resolved, except one: a suit involving the death of Mark Bavis, a 31-year-old hockey scout who was aboard United Airlines Flight 175, the second plane to hit the World Trade Center.

Family members had long resisted a settlement in the case, which was filed in 2002, saying they wanted to hold the defendants publicly accountable at trial for what the family and its lawyers contended was gross negligence that allowed five terrorists to board Flight 175.

But that public accountability was largely achieved on Friday, said a lawyer for the family, Donald A. Migliori, when the lawyers were able to file a detailed compendium of their evidence in response to a defense motion to dismiss the lawsuit.

The filing, which included 127 exhibits and many details not previously made public, showed “the essence of the story that we would have told over a trial that we would have expected to take six weeks,” Mr. Migliori said.


Juan Ocampo/Los Angeles Kings, via Associated Press
Mark Bavis

The defendants were United and Huntleigh USA, a security company that ran the checkpoint at Logan International Airport in Boston where Mr. Bavis boarded the flight. A trial was scheduled in November before Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein, who has overseen the wrongful-death suits as well as other Sept. 11 actions, including thousands of health-related claims by ground zero workers.

As with previous settlements in the Sept. 11 litigation, the damages will remain confidential, Mr. Migliori said.

A United spokeswoman, Megan McCarthy, said, “The tragic events of 9/11 impacted all of us, and we are pleased to resolve this case.”

Jonathan J. Ross, a lawyer for Huntleigh, said that it was also pleased with the resolution. “We have always taken the approach of trying to resolve the 9/11 cases for the families who lost their loved ones,” he said.

Michael Bavis, 41, the victim’s twin brother, said the recent public filing “tells an important story as to why this happened.”

“We hope it’s information that will make a difference,” Mr. Bavis said.

But he added that the “only reason” the case had come to an end was “because of recent rulings and manipulation of the law by the judge.”

He criticized, in particular, a Sept. 7 ruling that he said would have severely affected the family’s ability to tell its story at trial.

The lawyer, Mr. Migliori, said the ruling had shifted the burden of proof. “Instead of the Bavis family telling its story,” he said, “this ruling turned the trial into the defendants telling why they did nothing wrong that day.”

United and Huntleigh, in seeking dismissal of the case, had argued that they could not be held liable “for not stopping an attack that the entire federal government was unable to predict, plan against or prevent.”

The security system that United had in place, they contended, had been put into effect at the government’s direction and was “neither intended to stop, nor capable of stopping, what happened that day.”

The Bavis family’s lawyers sharply disputed that contention in their filing on Friday. They charged that United had a history of security failures and of not heeding warnings from one of its executives that it should improve staffing and training.

They also described the Logan checkpoint as being staffed on Sept. 11 by screeners who in some cases could not speak English and did not know what Al Qaeda and Mace were.

“One of the screeners was still unable to identify Mace when handed the Mace canister,” the document said.

Mace was used by the terrorists, along with knives and the threat of a bomb, to take control of the flight, passengers and crew members said in calls to the ground before the plane crashed, according to the Sept. 11 commission report.

The wrongful-death and injury suits represented only a small fraction of the total number of victims. Thousands of other victims and families received relatively quick and uncontested settlements, totaling more than $7 billion, through a special compensation fund created by Congress.

Although the individual legal settlements are secret, a court document filed in 2009, when all but three suits had been resolved, said that about $500 million had been paid out to resolve the claims.



September 21, 2011, Associated Press, Last family suing over 9/11 says judge gutted case, by Jimmy Golen,

BOSTON (AP) — The family fighting the last remaining wrongful death lawsuit against the airlines from the Sept. 11 attacks says it settled because the judge "essentially gutted" their case.

Mark Bavis was a hockey scout for the Los Angeles Kings who was on his way to training camp on United Flight 175 when it was hijacked and flown into the south tower of the World Trade Center.

The family has said it wanted to use the lawsuit to expose the airlines' security failures and force them to take responsibility for their role in the attacks. But in a public letter issued on Wednesday, the Bavises say decisions by U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein guaranteed that "the truth about what led to the events of Sept. 11, 2001, would never be told at trial."

Terms of Monday's settlement were not disclosed.



September 21, 2011, Associated Press, Last family suing over 9/11 says judge gutted case, by Jimmy Golen,

BOSTON (AP) — Even after settling what had been the last wrongful death lawsuit against the airlines over the Sept. 11 attacks, the family ofMark Bavis warned on Wednesday that neither those companies, nor government regulators have done enough to prevent another, similar catastrophe.

"Such a tragedy ... should never again be the result of lack of oversight or preparation or because lobbyists have so much influence and power in Washington, D.C., that American lives are at risk," the Bavis family said in a public letter released two days after the settlement was announced.

"Our government's job is to protect the people — from foreign armies, terrorists and even our own American corporations. It is time that our elected officials take responsibility for the authority we have given them."

Mark Bavis was a scout for the NHL's Los Angeles Kings who was on his way to training camp on United Flight 175 out of Boston when it was flown into the south tower of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001 — one of four planes hijacked in the deadliest terrorist attack ever on U.S. soil.

The Bavises were among 95 families that chose not to file a claim with the government-backed $7 billion Victims Compensation Fund that was established to protect the airlines from an expected deluge of lawsuits and provide a quick resolution for the surviving heirs. The other families had all settled by the10th anniversary of the attacks, but the Bavises said they would not because they were determined to expose the failures of the airline industry that allowed the armed hijackers onto the planes.

In the letter released on Wednesday, though, the family said it reversed course because said U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein "essentially gutted the case so that the truth about what led to the events of Sept. 11, 2001, would never be told at trial."

"With the stroke of his pen, Judge Hellerstein very cleverly changed this lawsuit," the letter said. "The lawsuit was about wrongful death, gross negligence and a complete lack of appreciation for the value of human life. He instead made it a case about a federal regulation."

Terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

"The tragic events of 9/11 impacted all of us, and we are pleased to resolve this case," United Airlines said in a statement Monday after the settlement was announced. St. Louis-based Huntleigh USA Corp., a security company that also was named in the lawsuit, did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

In interviews with The Associated Press last month as he approached the 10th anniversary of his identical twin brother's death, Mike Bavis said the family was dissatisfied with the official government investigation and wanted to press its case for answers and accountability. The family and its lawyers say their case has been the most comprehensive investigation yet on the failures of airline security.

In it, they found nine security screeners who had never heard of Osama bin Laden or al-Qaida; neither had Huntleigh's director of training and its general manager at Logan International Airport. The lawyers also wrote in court documents that a majority of the screeners on duty at the Flight 175 checkpoint that morning were immigrants who spoke limited English. One had such a poor grasp of English that she required an interpreter during her deposition.

But much of the information that could provide solace to the families of the Sept. 11 victims — and force the airlines to bolster security to prevent future attacks — was sealed by Hellerstein, Migliori said in an interview with the AP. The family had called for all of the court documents to be publicly available at the 9/11 memorial at the World Trade Center site.

"We, and other 9/11 families, wanted answers," Wednesday's letter said. "We want that information to be available to whoever cares to read it. It is important to us that some change comes out of the information held in those briefs."

Addressing the families of the other 9/11 victims, the letter said, "Our family envisioned a day when you could hear all the evidence, evidence that would provide an important step in moving beyond the events of that day.

"This process has taken a toll on us that only you could understand," the letter said. "We fought this long for two reasons, because we valued Mark's life in the time spent together, the shared experiences and the expectation of what life would continue to be. Secondly, the truth as to why this happened so easily should be important. Mark did not have to endure the tragedy that ended his life and neither did your loved ones."




















September 21, 2011, The Globe and Mail, Family of former Kings scout settles wrongful death suit, by Allan Maki,

The family of former Los Angeles Kings’ scout Mark Bavis has decided to settle its 911 wrongful death suit against United Airlines and the security company Huntleigh USA.

The Bavis’ had sued over the death of their son Mark, who was aboard United Airlines Flight 175 when it crashed into the World Trade Center 10 years ago. The case was headed for a November trial but was dismissed Tuesday without details of a settlement.

The Bavis’, whose other son Mike is an assistant coach with the Boston University men’s hockey team, were the last 911 family to settle their suit filed after the terrorist attacks.

The family issued a statement Wednesday explaining their actions.

“After ten long years, our family has had a change in position regarding the litigation on behalf of our son and brother, Mark. Mark was a passenger aboard United Airlines Flight 175 when it crashed into the World Trade Center. This change is the result of a recent ruling by the Honorable Judge Alvin Hellerstein. With the stroke of his pen, Judge Hellerstein very cleverly changed this lawsuit. The lawsuit was about wrongful death, gross negligence and a complete lack of appreciation for the value of human life.

“He instead made it a case about a federal regulation. He ignored 100 years of aviation law and relied on an environmental case to apply federal preemption. He essentially gutted the case so that the truth about what led to the events of Sept. 11, 2001, would never be told at trial.

“To the families of the 9/11 victims: We can honestly say that our family envisioned a day when you could hear all the evidence, evidence that would provide an important step in moving beyond the events of that day. This process has taken a toll on us that only you could understand. We fought this long for two reasons, because we valued Mark's life in the time spent together, the shared experiences and the expectation of what life would continue to be. Secondly, the truth as to why this happened so easily should be important. Mark did not have to endure the tragedy that ended his life and neither did your loved ones.

“Due to our family’s refusal to settle before this time, our attorneys at Motley Rice LLC have been able to conduct the most comprehensive investigation to date regarding how the airlines and airport security companies failed so miserably on 9/11 and in the days, weeks and months leading up to 9/11. Motley Rice’s attorneys have recovered ten times more information than the 9/11 Commission in regards to the failure of the aviation industry.

“Why? Because we, and other 9/11 families, wanted answers. We want that information to be available to whoever cares to read it. It is important to us that some change comes out of the information held in those briefs. The system is clearly broken when an industry like aviation has enough power to keep a federal agency such as the FAA from implementing more stringent security measures, especially during a heightened terrorism threat level. The tail is wagging the dog, and someone in Washington needs to stand up and start holding people accountable.

“It is not out of the question that our country could endure a similar event in the future. Such a tragedy, however, should never again be the result of lack of oversight or preparation or because lobbyists have so much influence and power in Washington, D.C., that American lives are at risk. Our government’s job is to protect the people—from foreign armies, terrorists and even our own American corporations. It is time that our elected officials take responsibility for the authority we have given them.

“All of the events of September 11, 2001, are open to opinion and discussion, but we believe the easiest way to have prevented the kind of horror and tragedy of 9/11 would have been to have an airline industry that made a reasonable effort to provide security for its passengers. The evidence shows that they most certainly did not.

“Lastly, we are thankful to have had a law firm like Motley Rice that was willing to stand by us and fight for the truth. Without them, we would have never learned so much about why this happened. In particular, we want to thank Don Migliori, Mary Schiavo and their entire team.



September 22, 2011, ProHockeyTalk, Mark Bavis’ family settles lawsuit with United Airlines over 9/11, by Joe Yerdon,

8:15 AM EDT


The family of former Los Angeles Kings scout Mark Bavis, who was killed on United Airlines flight 175 that crashed into the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 has settled their civil case against the airline, but not because they wanted to.

Bavis’ family was suing United Airlines for wrongful death and gross safety negligence leading to Bavis’ death on the doomed flight that also killed his colleague with the Kings Garnet “Ace” Bailey and everyone on board. The family settled their case because of what they feel were changes made to the lead argument in the hearing by the judge. The Bavis’ case was the last one remaining to be settled.

While the final settlement numbers were not made public, the Bavis’ did not go quietly upon settling with United Airlines. Alan Maki of The Globe And Mail shares in detail with the family’s statement upon the conclusion of the case.


“After ten long years, our family has had a change in position regarding the litigation on behalf of our son and brother, Mark. Mark was a passenger aboard United Airlines Flight 175 when it crashed into the World Trade Center. This change is the result of a recent ruling by the Honorable Judge Alvin Hellerstein. With the stroke of his pen, Judge Hellerstein very cleverly changed this lawsuit. The lawsuit was about wrongful death, gross negligence and a complete lack of appreciation for the value of human life.

“He instead made it a case about a federal regulation. He ignored 100 years of aviation law and relied on an environmental case to apply federal preemption. He essentially gutted the case so that the truth about what led to the events of Sept. 11, 2001, would never be told at trial.

“To the families of the 9/11 victims: We can honestly say that our family envisioned a day when you could hear all the evidence, evidence that would provide an important step in moving beyond the events of that day. This process has taken a toll on us that only you could understand. We fought this long for two reasons, because we valued Mark’s life in the time spent together, the shared experiences and the expectation of what life would continue to be. Secondly, the truth as to why this happened so easily should be important. Mark did not have to endure the tragedy that ended his life and neither did your loved ones.”

The rest of their statement can be read at the Globe And Mail’s site.

Considering the loss suffered by the Bavis’ and to all families who lost loved ones on all the flights that were downed by terrorists on 9/11, it’s powerful to see that the Bavis’ held on this long to fight what they feel to be the good fight and to help get to the bottom of how things could go so horribly wrong.

In the days since the 9/11 attacks, airlines have gone above and beyond the call of duty to try and make sure no one can slip through the cracks again and do harm on this or any magnitude again. We can’t expect that the Bavis’ or anyone else’s family can be left feeling good about settling in this manner, but if there’s more out there for the public to know about how airlines could’ve prepared for anything like this or ignored the signs we can hope that one day we’ll be made aware.



October 5, 2011, Boston.com / Jere Beasley Report, Airline Settles Nation’s Last 9/11 Lawsuit, by Beasley Allen,

After nearly ten years of litigation in a wrongful death lawsuit, the family of Mark Bavis, a professional hockey scout killed in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, reached a settlement with United Airlines and its security contractor. The family was the lone holdout among the thousands who either accepted money from the $7 billion Victim Compensation Fund or settled their individual lawsuits. Until now, the Bavis family had refused to settle its suit. Instead, the family wanted a trial so it could reveal “how woefully inadequate airport security measures were on the day the hijackers boarded at Logan International Airport.”

Family members attributed their change of heart about settling to “frustration over the legal system” that they say “gutted their case by limiting its scope.” Mike Bavis, Mark’s identical twin brother, had this to say about the settlement:

For almost ten years, my family never even considered the word ‘settle.’ We were always going to trial. How that changed has everything to do with the court, the legal system, and the rulings from Judge [Alvin] Hellerstein. The lawsuit was about wrongful death, gross negligence, and a complete lack of appreciation for the value of human life. Instead, the judge changed it to a case about federal regulations.

The trial had been set to begin on November 7th in a federal court in Manhattan. Mark Bavis was one of the 56 passengers who departed Logan International Airport on United Flight 175, the second plane to hit the World Trade Center. The 31-year-old Newton resident was headed to a Los Angeles Kings training camp in Los Angeles.

The settlement came 12 days after Judge Hellerstein ruled on September 7th that United Airlines and its security contractor, Huntleigh USA, had to prove only that they adhered to federal aviation safety standards, and didn’t have to meet the state standards of wrongful death that the Plaintiffs believed applied in their case. The Defense had asked the judge to dismiss the case. In response, lawyers for the family filed a brief with 127 exhibits outlining the evidence they intended to present at trial. That included depositions obtained from more than 200 screeners working on September 11, 2001, at Logan, their supervisors, chiefs of security for the airline, and Federal Aviation Administration officials.

The testimony revealed that the five terrorists who boarded Flight 175 passed through screeners at United Airlines who did not speak English (one even required a translator for her deposition), did not know who Osama bin Laden was, or what Al Qaeda was, and were both inexperienced and underpaid. In addition, many of the screeners on duty that day “did not know what Mace and pepper spray were.’’ It was shown by the documents, filed by the family, that the screeners and their supervisors failed to act on the suspicious behavior of two of the hijackers, who were let through security even though they didn’t speak English and could not even respond to security questions. Additional screening, the Bavis lawyers allege, would have included a hand search of their carry-on bags, which contained knives, Mace, and pepper spray. If that’s good security, airline passengers were being put at tremendous risk of harm and even death.

The family felt it had won a victory with the release of the depositions. The family was able to accomplish a major goal, according to Mike Bavis. The family worked to make public the airline’s failure to screen passengers adequately, hoping to help improve security and save lives in the future. On the morning of the attacks, at least nine screeners were unaware that the threat level had been raised to a level which meant terrorists with a known capability to attack civil aviation were likely to carry out attacks against U.S. targets.

The victim’s mother, Mary Bavis, and her six surviving children filed the wrongful death lawsuit in 2002 against United, Huntleigh, and Massport (which runs Logan Airport). Judge Hellerstein dismissed the claim against Massport in July. The family’s lawyer, Donald Migliori of the Motley Rice law firm, says that the settlement was the result of the family’s frustration with court delays and rulings, and its relief when the depositions were finally released. Mike Bavis said the easiest way to have prevented the “tragedy and horror’’ of 9/11 would have been “to have an airline industry that made a reasonable effort to provide security for its passengers.” He says “the evidence shows that they most certainly did not.’’ The amount of the settlement is confidential. Incidentally, the judge had limited the trial to three weeks.


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