This jury verdict is incomprehensible. The five judge ruling is incredulous. We have become, it seems, unable to think. The jihadis must be roiling in laughter. Theodore Frank writes, "We have gotten to the point where five judges can shrug their shoulders at this jury verdict and rationalize it with citation to precedent and say that the Port Authority had public parking, and was therefore asking for it. In this case, taxpayers were victimized once by terrorists and a second time by trial lawyers and a court system run amok."
When I saw those buildings fall, I was certain there was no way they were more than two-thirds evacuated, based on size, number of people, and the inevitable chaos that accompanies such things.
A lot of disaster officials were of similar opinion. Guliani requested, I recall, over 10,000 body bags. (No one understood yet that the majority of the bodies would be simply vaporized).
But the reality was, we all learned, the buildings had been about 90% evacuated.
The only reason that could occur is the planning done by the building engineers and the FDNY after the first bombing, when the evacuation took much longer (three hours) . Had the first bombing and the first evacuation never happened, no one would have planned for the second."
Blame Port Authority NY Sun
On February 26, 1993, Islamic terrorists exploded a 1,500-pound bomb in the garage of the World Trade Center, killing six and injuring more than a thousand. This was, a jury decided in 2006, 68% the responsibility of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, a bit more than twice the responsibility of the men who actually engaged in the bomber.
The Port Authority, potentially liable for billions because of the decision, including 100% of the “pain and suffering” claims, appealed, noting that the result was “bizarre.” This week, a five-judge panel of the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court in Manhattan unanimously upheld the jury verdict.
The injustice is the culmination of decades of increasingly ludicrous — and expensive — litigation. The judges can, and did, say they just were being consistent with previous bizarre precedents of New York courts, such as one holding the New York City Transit Authority liable for failing to stop a train in time to avoid hitting a victim intentionally pushed into the train’s path.
The Alice-in-Wonderland logic, complete with a farcically precise adjudication of apples and oranges that the Port Authority was not 42%, not 67%, but
Contingent-fee attorneys rarely have the incentive to go after the most culpable party, who all too often does not have the financial assets to account for the damage he has done. It is far more profitable to manufacture a storyline that makes the deep-pocketed bystander look responsible.
In the pending litigation over the September 11, 2001, attack, attorneys didn’t sue the kitchen sink, but managed to name just about everyone else as defendants: airlines (including 11 airlines other than the two who lost planes), airports, architects, banks, Boeing, Motorola, and New York City, among others.
That search for a story has its own distortions and costs. The legal “discovery” process requires defendants to spend millions of dollars digging through their files for documents that might be relevant, an expense that has grown astronomically in the age of effortless e-mail. Trial lawyers look at those documents with 20/20 hindsight for the stray remark that can be turned into the smoking gun in the screenplay of the trial.
So we get results like the Port Authority trial. To construct their billion-dollar storyline where the victim is the bad guy, trial lawyers found a 1985 report with dozens of recommendations, one of which was to close 400 of the 2,000 parking spaces in case terrorists used the public parking for a car bomb. The Port Authority chose not to close the public parking. Terrorists bombed the public parking. QED: the authority foresaw the risk and failed to act, and must be responsible.
Read it all.