United Airlines Not Liable for 9/11 Tower Collapse

Owner of 7 World Trade Center had sued over alleged security breach
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 21, 2012 11:40 AM CST
United Airlines Not Liable for 9/11 Tower Collapse
Smoke billows from the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York after planes crashed into each tower in this Sept. 11, 2001 file photo.   (AP Photo/Gene Boyars)

United Airlines is not responsible for the damage done to 7 World Trade Center in the 9/11 attacks, a federal judge ruled today, dismissing a lawsuit from the leaseholder of the property. Larry Silverstein had alleged that lapses in United's security allowed terrorists to board a plane at a Maine airport and ultimately take over the American Airlines plane that crashed into one of the towers, whose collapse in turn caused Tower 7 to fall, Reuters reports.

The hijackers originally boarded a US Airways flight in Portland, Maine, before transferring to the American plane in Boston, and United helps run Portland's lone security checkpoint. As such, Silverstein argued that United was legally responsible for screening fliers and didn't seize a "clear chance" to stop the hijacking. Judge Alvin Hellerstein had sounded skeptical of the suit from early on in questioning, Reuters reported last month, saying ruling against United would be "inconsistent" with previous rulings absolving other airlines of blame for the events of the day. In his ruling, he said United could not have foreseen the long chain of events that culminated in the building's collapse. (Read more United Airlines stories.)

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