Cantor Fitzgerald to Settle 9/11 Lawsuit Against American Airlines

By Benjamin Weiser New York Times

The Wall Street firm Cantor Fitzgerald has agreed to settle a 2004 lawsuit against American Airlines and its insurers over Cantor’s business and property losses resulting from the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center.

Cantor lost 658 of its nearly 1,000 New York employees when American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the trade center’s north tower, where Cantor headquarters occupied top floors.

Lawyers for both companies disclosed the agreement on Thursday in Federal District Court in Manhattan, where the case was scheduled for trial next month.

“We have reached an agreement on the terms of a settlement,” Cantor’s lawyer, John F. Stoviak, told Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein.

The amount of the deal was not revealed, although it is expected to be after the deal is made final, the lawyers said. Cantor had demanded as much as $1.1 billion in damages, after insurance recoveries, although that figure was later reduced to between $400 million and $500 million.

American’s lawyer, Desmond T. Barry Jr., told Judge Hellerstein that he had “some work to do,” because he had to obtain signatures from insurers around the world. But the money had been collected, he added.

The settlement brings closer the end of years of litigation stemming from the September 11 attacks before Judge Hellerstein, who has overseen settlements of more than 90 wrongful death and injury claims by victims and their families, a set of business and property lawsuits, and claims by more than 10,000 ground zero workers who had sued the city over respiratory and other illnesses that they said had resulted from their role in rescue and cleanup work in the center’s smoldering ruins.

Cantor’s lawsuit focused on the firm’s business-interruption losses. Had the case gone to trial, it might have offered the first real legal test of whether the airlines had culpability in the attacks.

Cantor had accused American of negligence in failing to prevent the hijackers from entering and crashing the plane into the tower, arguing the airline owed a duty of “the highest possible degree of care” to prevent a hijacking.

American, in denying liability, argued that it had had no basis on which to foresee such an attack, and that it had adhered to federal aviation security regulations as well as those adopted by the carrier.

Mr. Barry and a Cantor spokesman declined to comment after the hearing.

A version of this article appears in print on December 14, 2013, on page A20 of the New York edition with the headline: Cantor Fitzgerald to Settle 9/11 Lawsuit Against Airline.

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