October 28, 2005


Negligence found in '93 bombing (Anemona Hartocollis, The New York Times, October, 28th, 2005)

A Manhattan jury has found the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to be negligent in safeguarding the World Trade Center before the first terror attack on the twin towers, the 1993 bombing that killed six people and injured 1,000.

The six-member jury in State Supreme Court on Wednesday unanimously found that the Port Authority had not maintained the center's underground parking garage "in a reasonably safe condition" and that the failure was "a substantial factor" in allowing the bombing to occur. The finding could prove costly for the agency.

It was in the public parking area below the trade center that Islamic terrorists detonated a truck packed with explosives on Feb. 26, 1993. The bombing foreshadowed the attacks that brought down the towers and killed nearly 3,000 people on Sept. 11, 2001.

Some days it is hard to bury the fear that, if Rome declined from moral and economic lassitude and Britain from imperial overstretch, America’s decline will be spawned in an orgy of immobilizing self-blame.

Posted by Peter Burnet at October 28, 2005 6:09 AM

Hardly an orgy of immobilizing self-blame. What we see here is the corruption of tort law, fueled by the money pumped into the system by the plaintiffs' bar.

This was a failure to provide security case, the gravemen of which was that the landowner should have foreseen a terrorist attack and should have closed the parking garage altogether.

Society as a whole may make a decision to compensate victims of enemy attacks, as we did following 9-11, but corruption of tort law is not the way to accomplish this.

Enemy attacks are not reasonably foreseeable. No reasonable jury could find that they were.

Posted by: Lou Gots at October 28, 2005 8:22 AM

Slavery will be America's downfall, but it is surprising how much damage can be done by judges' misunderstanding insurance.

Posted by: David Cohen at October 28, 2005 9:39 AM

You would not think that a landowner would be liable for the acts of persons not under his care, custody or control.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at October 28, 2005 9:35 PM

Lou Gots:

If I recall my long-ago first year law school tort class, New York courts effectively banned such suits at the turn of the 20th Century by immunizing New York when it built the subways, which required blasting tunnels, which in turn caused substantial vibration damage to surface buildings and businesses. Cost of living in a civilized society was the courts' rationale, as I recall. We've come a long way, baby.

Posted by: Fred Jacobsen (San Fran) at October 28, 2005 11:46 PM