Push launched for $2.8B in 9/11 insurance money

Daniel Geiger Crain’s

The city’s construction industry is ramping up pressure on insurers left on the hook for massive damages at Ground Zero in the 9/11 attacks to pay out up to $2.8 billion to Silverstein Properties, the leaseholder on the site and one of the developers rebuilding the complex there.

The coalition includes both the Building and Construction Trades Council, which represents the city’s 100,000 unionized construction workers, and the Building Trades Employers Association, an organization of the largest construction contracting groups. Other members include 32BJ, one of the country’s largest unions and the New York  Hotel and Motel Trades Council.

The group has won support from elected officials including Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, New York Congresswoman and mayoral candidates Christine Quinn and Bill Thompson.

The efforts, which include a new website, ad campaign and expected rallies, come in advance of a key federal court session scheduled for July 15 in which a judge is expected to affirm whether Silverstein Properties can try to recoup $2.8 billion from the insurers or settle with trying to claw back a lesser amount. The trial to actually win the insurance proceeds isn’t expected to begin until next year.

The payout, if it happens, would be the second major insurance payment to the site. Silverstein and the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey won about $4.1 billion in 2004 from insurers of the World Trade Center. The current insurance case is against insurers of United Airlines and American Airlines, which operated the planes used in the attack on the Twin Towers.

Silverstein Properties has pledged to use the proceeds from the current case to build 2 World Trade Center, a large office tower at the northeast corner of the site that the developer has not yet begun.

“We are doing this to draw attention to the fact that a handful of insurance companies are holding up rebuilding the World Trade Center,” said Gary LaBarbera, president of the Building and Construction Trades Council. “It’s unacceptable that nearly 12 years after 9/11, these companies refuse to pay what they owe.”

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