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Judge: Airlines must stand trial over 9/11 negligence claims

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See images from the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

A U.S. judge ruled that AMR Corp's American Airlines and United Continental Holdings Inc must face trial over claims relating to the September 11 attacks that destroyed the landmark towers of the World Trade Center in New York almost 11 years ago, court documents showed.

In July 2001, two months before the attacks, World Trade Center Properties LLC (WTCP) bought 99-year leases to four World Trade Center buildings from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Inc for $2.805 billion.


In its lawsuit against United Airlines and American Airlines, WTCP said that had it not been for the airlines' negligence, "the terrorists could not have boarded and hijacked the aircraft and flown them into the twin towers," on September 11, 2001, according a New York court filing.

NBC News anchors and correspondents recall their personal memories of reporting live the morning of September 11, 2001 as the terrorist attacks on America unfolded and as some of the memorable stories emerged in the days and weeks that followed.

The company claimed damages of $8.4 billion from the airlines, the estimated cost of replacing the towers.

Judge Alvin Hellerstein limited the value of WTCP's destroyed property to $2.805 billion, the price WTCP paid for the leases.

The defendants denied they were negligent, and said the case should not go to trial because WTCP has recovered $4.091 billion from insurance companies.

Farooq Naeem / AFP - Getty Images

U.S. forces found and killed the al-Qaida leader in the affluent Pakistani town of Abbottabad, where he had been living in a large compound.

Judge Hellerstein said at this stage he could not reasonably determine the defendants' claim that insurance payments received by WTCP covered the damages the company is seeking from them.

"On this record, before trial, I am not able to make such findings," Judge Hellerstein said in a court filing.

The case is in re September 11 litigation, Case No. 21-MC-101, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York.

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