NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Placing Blame: Litigation After September 11

October 21, 2002

When establishing the Victim Compensation Fund last year, Congress foresaw a potential legal nightmare. It thus imposed one condition before victims of the September 11 attacks could receive money from the fund: they had to waive their right to sue anyone other than the terrorists.

But recent claims suggest that Congress did not go far enough. It should reconsider whether lawsuits arising over the events of September 11, other than those against the terrorists, should be allowed at all.

  • So far, some 30 families have filed lawsuits against the airlines and against the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
  • The City of New York has already been hit with over 1,500 claims.
  • Hundreds of the families are considering similar claims.
  • Billions of dollars sought from the City of New York would come from out of schools, health care and other common services.

There is no logical limit to these lawsuits or to others that could readily be brought. In order to focus our energies on the future, Congress must bar civil litigation seeking to place blame for the devastating events of the past.

Source: Philip K. Howard, "Facing the Limits of Law, and of Lawsuits," New York Times, September 21, 2002.


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