Lucky Larry wants $12.3 billion more for 9/11
By Jerry Mazza
Online Journal Associate Editor
Apr 3, 2008, 00:38
Like the proverbial
bad penny, Lucky Larry Silverstein keeps popping up. He�s back and he�s bad
again. Not content with the nearly $4.6 billion in insurance payments he
received to cover his losses at the World Trade Center, he is now seeking $12.3
billion in damages from the airlines and airport security companies for the
9/11 attack in a suit filed in 2004.
Not tainted enough by
the fact that Silverstein & Partners took out a lease for 99 years in July
of 2001 on the WTC, two months before the attack . . . not content Larry &
Partners upped the insurance at that time to $3.5 billion and (presciently) to
cover potential hits by airliners flown by �terrorist hijackers� . . .
Not content that
Silverstein & Partners subsequently sued the insurers for $7 billion,
considering the attack a double strike because separate liners hit Towers One
and Two. Not content that Larry spent the next six years in litigation with the
insurance companies, only to have the deal fortunately settled, brokered by
then Governor Spitzer in 2007, yielding $4.55 to Lucky Larry and Partners . . .
Not content either
that his personal stake in the lease was only some $14 million, the balance
supplied by his partners. Not content that he made another $500 million on the
destruction of his Tower 7, which he owned and quickly rebuilt bigger and
better. Not content that no liner hit Tower 7 and that the fires were out, he
announced at 3:30 p.m. on 9/11 that there had been so much pain and suffering
that he and the NYFD decided to �pull it� -- Tower 7 . . .
Not content that in
fact at 5 p,m,, not even two hours later . . . Tower 7 went down at the
freefall speed of gravity in a matter of seconds neatly into its own footprint,
a classic �internal demolition.� Not content that you can�t set up an internal
demolition on a 47-story steel-framed building in less than two hours or two
days, or even two weeks. Not content that his �smoking gun� has attracted the
attention of every 9/11 critic around the world . . .
Not content that the
BBC made an incredible gaffe as a TV journo of theirs, supposedly in New York,
reported that Tower
7 had fallen, that is, 26 minutes before it actually fell and with a News24
�time stamp� video to prove it. Not content that even Google had to pull the
video . . . Larry Silverstein, the Oliver Twist of 9/11 disaster, is back,
asking for more, sir, more please. Incredible! What colossal chutzpah!
But hey, Larry�s got
reasons; boy, does he have reasons. His lawyers aired them in the United States
Southeastern District Court in Manhattan, the same court in which the 9/11
victims families have been plaintiffs for cases to sue the airlines and
security companies, and by the way, where 90 families have been turned down for
lawsuits and only two remain who haven�t taken the money and shut up, and where
Ellen Mariani has been consistently turned down and continues to be . . .
have come to ask the wonderful Judge Hellerstein for more, the same Hellerstein
who asked all the families to take the money and �move on� and told them that
�money was the universal lubricant . . ." What goes around comes around.
By the way, the total
claims involved come to about $23 billion. Silverstein�s chunk could endanger
claims from other businesses and property owners, defense lawyers say. Why,
Donald Migliori himself, the lawyer for the victims� families, said he was
confident �that their claims would not be affected because they would take
priority over the property claims,� as reported by
the New York Times. So they won�t be taking food from widows� and
children�s mouths to feed Larry, not this week at least.
Barry, a lawyer for the airlines, said that if Lucky Larry won his claims, �He
could push the total claims beyond the amount of insurance that the airlines
and security companies have available. 'There ain�t that much insurance,' Mr.
list for the $12.3 billion goes like this, �$8.4 billion for the replacement of
destroyed buildings and $3.9 billion in �other costs,� including $100 million a
year in rent to the Port authority and $300 million a year in lost rental
income, as well as the cost of marketing and leasing the new buildings.�
Mr. Barry, the Times
tells us, reminded Silverstein�s folks that he �had been more than compensated
by the nearly $4.6 billion insurance settlement, reached after almost six years
of litigation. He argued that Mr. S. was entitled to the market value of the
property, which he said had been established by the $3.2 billion.�
Judge Hellerstein was
skeptical about Mr. Silverstein�s claim, and asked why he hadn�t sucked up his
losses by just �walking away.� Hellerstein asked, �What�s the nature of your
recovery,� to which Larry�s lawyer, Mr. Williamson, answered, �For damages suffered
by the events of 9/11, not value. Damages.� He claimed the lease required
Silverstein to rebuild and keep on paying rent.
�And so I�m putting to you if you walked away from the lease, you would lose
the value of the lease . . . Would you have a further obligation to pay money?�
Williamson answered, �You have to examine that question . . . But to me that�s
not the test of what are our damages.�
pressed for a dollar figure on damages, not the �precise amount,� i.e., �some
order of magnitude would be appropriate,� Williamson balked. Barry said, �I
think their claim is $12.3 billion.� Williamson added, �Plus prejudgment
interest,� To which Hellerstein �tartly replied, 'We shouldn�t forget that.'�
They won�t let you, Alvin.
added that even after many settlements, there are seven wrongful death and two
injury cases remaining from the more than 90 filed. Migliori, the victims�
survivors� lawyer, felt that the claims with property damage, including Lucky
Larry and some insurance company looking to recoup payments, should allow the
death and injury cases priority of payment of damages. Fair enough.
passed on setting a trial date. He said that would be �fictitious,� yet set a
deadline for fact-finding for Silverstein to offer more documentation of his
claim -- or risk losing it. Any trials, by the way, seem to be more than a year
The real caveat here
is that to win a case of that size for damages, Silverstein would have to go to
court for discovery. Meaning his lawyers could bring in every fireman who heard
a blast, Silverstein himself for his �pull� remark, and even Hizzoner Rudy
Giuliani for saying that morning, at 9:15 to ABC�s Peter Jennings, on the
street that someone told him the towers were coming down. In short, you could
grill ass like the devil until you found out what really
Bottom line, Larry
could get a billion dollar bone thrown at him, a take-the-money and-shut-up
bone. Or Larry could end up in cement shoes, for real or legally. After all,
Larry knew, going into the lease purchase that the Towers
were asbestos-laden bombs, the first 60 floors sprayed with the building
material when built from 1968 to '72. And they were supposed to be taken down
eventually, according to a 1971 New York Council ban on asbestos.
buildings couldn�t be legally taken down by explosion or implosion. They would
have to be taken down piece by piece. The cost would be in the billions by
today�s standards. But there was another way to take them down, wasn�t there?
Jerry Mazza is a freelance writer living in New York.
Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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