Special Reports
Are the 9/11 lawsuits finally going to trial?
By Jerry Mazza
Online Journal Associate Editor

Sep 10, 2007, 01:32

A pretrial hearing to determine potential compensatory damages in six lawsuits brought by 9/11 victims� families, originally scheduled by Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein for August 30 at the Southeastern District Federal Court, was changed at the last minute.

�He�s on vacation� was the answer from the court clerks. And �always check the court website before coming.� Now we know to call first for Federal Court hearings.

That left Ellen Mariani (who had flown in especially to witness the event), attorney (and independent candidate for NY Attorney General) Carl Person, American Free Press Reporter Mark Anderson, myself and other concerned persons high and dry in the marble corridors outside courtroom 14D, where nevertheless we lingered for two hours sharing information and ire.

After a call to court chambers, we found out that the hearing had been rescheduled to September 4, at 10 am, for those remaining 41 families who had chosen to sue rather than take money from the Victims Compensation Fund, which would cancel their right to sue. A day later, the date for the pretrial was moved again, ironically to September 11 at 2:30 pm. One wondered if someone was playing musical chairs with the dates to prevent those concerned from attending.

We have (as of this writing) one day left to see if Judge Hellerstein will keep his appointment with justice. The judge chose to begin with the damages portion of the would-be trials. This would be to determine the victims and their families� pain and suffering in the cases, which include wage, property and business losses, all of which are compounded by the number of dependents. But damages are usually the second phase of a trail. Liability is generally part one, so that a jury can determine if and to what extent the airlines and their security contractors could be held liable.

In this case, the liability phase is to be decided by a single jury later. The defendants include airlines, airline manufacturers (such as Boeing), agencies such as the Port of Authority of New York and New Jersey (which owned the World Trade Center) in addition to agencies responsible for security at the WTC and the key airports, Logan and Dulles.

As USA TODAY reported, �Andrew Maloney, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said it is unusual to have a trial on damages before it is decided who might be forced to pay them, but he said it has happened before in airline disaster cases. He also said he agreed with the judge that �this might break the logjam.�� Another attorney called it �a sterile environment� in which to judge the cases.

The �logjam� refers to the fact that even though 2,880 victims' families (97 percent of all) have been paid some $6 billion, the remaining 41 families that still chose to sue have been waiting several years for courtroom not backroom settlement justice.

NY Times paints a condescending picture of remaining families

In an article, Little-Noticed 9/11 Lawsuits Will Go to Trial, Anemona Hartocollis writes, �By the plaintiffs� own accounts, they have sued with mixed motives, which sometimes even they cannot untangle. They present themselves as heroes fighting for the truth and as families honoring the memory of their loved ones, but they are not apologetic about seeking money. They seem to be an angry, stubborn, sorrowful and stalwart group, who have been little known by most Americans, or perhaps forgotten with the passage of time.�

Why should they be apologetic about anything, including financial awards, to sustain themselves after losing their loved ones; and with no explanation but the tome of the 911 Commission of Omission or the CIA�s self-serving report on its failures?

In another place, Hartocollis lays on another coat of tar and feathers, �If there is anything that characterizes many of the remaining holdouts in the lawsuits, their lawyers acknowledge, it is that they tend to be people who would not have received high awards from the federal government�s September 11th Victim Compensation Fund -- children, retirees, single people without dependents.�

Again, the implication here is that these families are not really holding out on the basis of principle but to get more money, �angry, stubborn, sorrowful and stalwart� as they have been characterized.

The truth is, I witnessed both plaintiff and airline lawyers bandying about names of cases on June 25, 2007, in Judge Hellerman�s courtroom, trying to find those victims with the least amount of dependents� liability, and the most financially and legally expedient jurisdictions. I wrote about it in Choosing 9/11 victim lawsuits for trial? In the first paragraph, I linked my first article from the June 14 court date: The 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund: cui bono? This article provides more background on the fund and its players.

Of the six cases chosen from the June 25 meeting, four were single adults, and two were seniors whose adult children were grown and self-supporting. One senior victim, a successful computer engineer, left a wife who shared her husband�s comfortable retirement. So, the onus of money-grubbing, quick and easy settlements was on the lawyers and the judge.

What�s more, Ellen Mariani, who had spoken out first and ferociously against the government with a RICO suit (subsequently dismissed) and a suit against United Airlines, had her name illegally replaced on that latter suit with her step-daughter�s name, Lauren Peters, n�e Mariani, natural daughter of Louis Neal Mariani. This was done by a variety of skilled if not corrupt lawyers in league with the �judicial system.� Mrs. Mariani has now been given the status of non-person, or persona non grata for exercising her right to challenge. It�s been left to this patriot widow to fight her way back into her due process and/or award.

In fact, Lauren Peters may have already struck a deal with the powers that be and may be receiving payment from Oasis Legal Finance, based on her final award. It�s sort of like getting your tax return early from one of those accounting companies that slice a piece of the action for fronting you your cash. Lauren Peters originally was in full accord with her step-mother about the suits back home in New Hampshire. Also, New Hampshire state law stipulates that any and all awards must be equally shared. But then Peters reportedly has had a history of alcohol, substance and eating abuse. Perhaps her judgment and commitment to her original principles were clouded by those problems and the legal-beagles� lure of big bucks.

Hartocollis� New York Times article also mentions Mary Schiavo, who was a former inspector general for the federal Department of Transportation. After 9/11, Schiavo visited the Washington, DC, African-American family of one of the victims, 11-year old Asia Cottom, lost on Flight 77 on an educational trip with her classmates. Mrs. Cottom says, �She [Schiavo] came to me and convinced me that she could bring justice to the situation, and I trusted what she said.� Schiavo, the Times reports, �convinced Mrs. Cottom that her instincts were right, that Asia deserved much more than what the government would offer.� The average award was $2 million; the range from $250,000 to $7.1 million. So, who�s at fault here, the grieving mother of a bright, beautiful child or a lawyer full of promises, promises?

It is also interesting that Schiavo went on to become a noted authority on TV talk shows on aviation disasters and terrorism. More importantly, she went on to lawyer for the well known South Carolina law firm of Motley Rice. She brought with her 44, count them, 44, 9/11 cases for the Motley roster. Initially, Motley Rice represented some 53 cases, with 30 remaining after 23 settlements. Somewhere along the line, Schiavo dropped Mrs. Mariani as a client, since Mariani caught her in and questioned her about a secret meeting with high officials. Perhaps Mrs. Mariani was too close to something for comfort. Originally, Schiavo said she was �honored to have Mariani as a client.� Unfortunately, she wasn�t honored to keep her.

Ah, but now the plot takes an interesting turn.

Airlines sue FBI and CIA over 9/11 blame

AP beamed this story to media around the globe, that aviation and related companies were suing the CIA and FBI to force terrorism investigators to tell the whole truth and nothing but to clear the aviation industry from being solely to blame for the 9/11 attacks. In other words, the fly-boys weren�t going to eat the tab that could run in the billions for 41 possible lawsuits. The FBI/CIA suits were deposed conveniently in the same Manhattan US District Court to build defenses in those victims� suits for damages from injuries, deaths and property and business losses. Curiously, this was an offbeat clarion call for some in-depth 9/11 truth, though far from what really happened. Check that out at this link.

Also, the airlines said the CIA and FBI had turned down a request to depose two secret agents, including the 2001 head of the CIA�s special Osama bin Laden unit, and six FBI agents with key knowledge of al Qaeda and bin Laden. The airlines claimed that they were entitled to present evidence showing that the �terrorist� attacks didn�t depend on negligence by any airline defendants and that there were other causes involved.

Now someone was shaking the cage, at least within the larger zoo of the myth that bin Laden and box-cutter brandishing terrorists did it. No demands have been made as to whether they were the patsies or the real culprits, or that the �terrorists� were not even on the planes.

But the airlines and their compatriots want to show that the terrorists were �sophisticated, ideologically driven and well-financed� and would have been successful irrespective of any action by airline entities. Well at least that points a finger in the right direction: towards the government itself as the culprit.

One would hope that the FBI and the CIA would depose the White House and the Pentagon coup-engineers who were pulling the real strings on that awful day. For some more realistic answers, Google or order historian Webster Tarpley�s 9/11 Synthetic Terror -- Made in the USA or David Ray Griffin�s classic, The New Pearl Harbor -- Disturbing Questions about the Bush Administration and 9/11.

Returning to the FBI/CIA case, in this instance the plaintiffs are American Airlines, Inc. AMR Corporation; United Airlines, Inc.; UAL Corp.; US Airways Group, Inc.: US Airways, Inc.; Delta Airlines, Inc.; Continental Airlines, Inc.; Airtran Airways, Inc.; Colgan Air, Inc.; Argenbright Security, Inc.; Globe Aviation Services Corporation; Globe Airport Security Services, inc.; Huntleight USA Corp.; ICTS International NV; The Boeing Company; The Massachusetts Port Authority; and the Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority. They represent 5 percent of America�s wealth. The Wall Street Journal Online can provide you with a look at the actual suits.

In the CIA lawsuits, the above plaintiffs said they asked to interview the deputy chief of the CIA�s bin Laden unit in 2001 and an FBI agent assigned to the unit at that time. Those names remain secret. In the FBI lawsuit, the plaintiffs asked to interview five former and current FBI employees who had taken part in investigations of al Qaeda and al Qaeda operatives before and after the 9/11 attacks.

I would suggest the airlines ask to speak as well to bin Laden�s CIA handler who saw him in July 2001 as he entered a hospital in Dubai for kidney dialysis. This is duly noted in former CIA Station Chief Robert Baer�s book, Sleeping With the Devil.

Getting to the truth of 9/11

Perhaps if we open the doors to the cages in the myth�s zoo and we pull out all the animals inside, we�ll get to the real truth about 9/11, that it was an inside false-flag job. And then the government and its leaders will have to pay a lot more than money, and not just to the victims and their families, but to the people of America for the War on Terror that ensued as a result of 9/11 in Afghanistan, and Iraq, and the one which now seems to be brewing in Iran, created as still another cover-up in which to cage the American psyche, its energy, resources and freedoms.

In essence, all who believe 9/11 was anything but an inside job are victims, too. And the justice they seek, unless they investigate and demand it themselves, will not be forthcoming. Instead a $3 billion a week chunk of their tax money will be taken from their treasury just to pay for the first two wars, let alone a third. And their sons and daughters will taken by draft this time. And there will be no turning back, no court of last resort; only the shadows, the emptiness of those fallen Towers that can be seen so clearly from courtroom 14D at 55 Pearl Street. Those are really the larger implications of these trials and the justice sought by its 41 families, whether they know it or not. And perhaps there is no calculable price tag for all these losses. But perhaps the heads of the real perpetrators might do as a start.

Jerry Mazza is a freelance writer living in New York City. Reach him at gvmaz@verizon.net.

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