Judge Forces Families to Settle Out of Court
September 9, 2007
With the 6th anniversary of 9-11 only 2 days away, the New York Post has published an article highlighting a callous comment made by the Manhattan federal Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein, who said that the families of the 9-11 victims should settle for cash and get on with their lives. The New York Post article of September 9, 2007, entitled "Familes Fume at 'Callous' Judge" by Susan Edelman reported:
Some of the 41 families who refused 9-11 compensation to press lawsuits against airlines are furious at remarks by the presiding judge, who hopes they will give up their day in court - if the price is right. Manhattan federal Judge Alvin Hellerstein says the die-hard 9-11 families should settle for cash and move on.
"Money is the universal lubricant," Hellerstein said, admitting his comments were "crass." "Each of us has a choice: Either to never forget that pain and have it ever present in our lives, or to fashion a life beyond the pain," the judge said at a recent hearing.
"Somehow, we need to get past Sept. 11, 2001, as a country and individually."
His comments angered the holdouts who want to hold the airlines accountable for the ease with which 19 terrorist killers boarded four planes.
"It bothers me a great deal that someone in charge of this trial has become so cynical," fumed Mike Low, the dad of a flight attendant aboard American Airlines Flight 11, the first to crash into the World Trade Center
"He can't understand our loss. He sees the solution in a very cold and pragmatic way - in dollars and cents. He thinks everybody should take the money and go away."
Low's daughter, Sara, 29, spent her last moments calming terrified passengers and helping crewmates call in reports of the hijacking.
"Sara was murdered on 9-11. Her voice is silent, so I must speak for my daughter," Low said.
Prior to the article in the Post, this outrageous comment by the Alvin K. Hellerstein, the U.S. district judge who is presiding over all 9-11 victims cases, had only been reported in one other newspaper: the Boston Herald of September 4. Hellerstein made these incredibly callous comments during a June 25 court conference:
I learned long ago as a lawyer that many cases of principle stop being cases of principle when there are elements of expense or recovery that are presented. I have had clients come to me and say look, I want you to defend me, it is a case of principle. Then when I presented my first bill, it stopped being a case of principle. I think it is common experience.
Similarly on the other side, people say I don't care what the recovery is, I want my day in court until someone gives them a check.
It is very crass and it probably will come back to be critical of me, but there is an expression that is sometimes very useful, "Money is the universal lubricant." It makes it easier to go on with one's life.
Out of the mundane, you can fashion something that makes a great deal of sense. We are coming on six years from the terrible event of September 11th, 2001. The public life is 4 score and 10, if it is correct. There is a great value in living out those years that God has allotted to each of us in a way that is most productive for the individual and for society.
What happened on September 11th, 2001 is now a memory with different degrees of pain for different people, for some degree of pain for each and every American and perhaps beyond the United States of America. Each of us has a choice either to never forget that pain and have it ever present in our lives or to fashion a life beyond the pain. If one looks at the issue in that way -- and I suggest that it is the only way to look at it -- the question then becomes what's the fairest, the most efficient, what is the best way to get on with the rest of our lives.
It seems to me that if I were your client, Ms. Schiavo, and one day perhaps I'll be lucky enough to perhaps be your client or a client of someone else or perhaps maybe I'll be lucky, lucky to have avoided some of the terrible problems in life that brings us -- in any event, if I were your client and I were presented with an opportunity to get a fair and proper disposition, I think I would jump at the chance.
Perhaps if the opportunity came to Mr. and Mrs. Carstanjen with regard to the memory they have of their son, they would find the benefits of a fair and proper disposition so important and so appropriate as to go past their suffering. They have others. They can do good for themselves and for others. There is a value in this.
In a way that I was called upon to express here, this is really what I am trying to achieve with all the settlements.
I am not trying to cut values here, I am not trying to cut short any justice or compromise in any way. I am trying to deal as best I can with a problem that is searing. Somehow we need to get past September 11, 2001 as a country and individually for all clients, and I would like to bring about that possibility as best I can, as efficiently as I can in a short a period of time as I can.
Note: The old website for 9-11 litigation documents, www.sept11tortlitigation.com, has been changed. The new website does not allow access to the documents as before.
For the 9-11 plaintiffs and millions of others around the world who are hoping for justice and discovery about who is really responsible for the terror attacks that took 3,000 lives, they may now realize that Judge Hellerstein is not at all inclined to go down that path.
To understand where Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein's loyalties lie is key to understanding why he is so adamantly opposed to open trials and a public airing of the 9-11 evidence. For background reading I recommend my earlier article about Hellerstein and his Zionist roots, "The Judicial Hijacking of the 9-11 Victim Lawsuits."
Photo: United States District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein of the Southern District of New York.
Judge Hellerstein has deep and long-standing Zionist connections and close family ties to the state of Israel. Mildred Hellerstein, his wife, for example, is a former senior vice president and current treasurer of a New York-based Zionist organization called AMIT. AMIT promotes Jewish immigration to Israel and stands for Americans for Israel and Torah. AMIT's motto is "Building Israel - One Child at a Time."
Judge Hellerstein is also a long-time member of The Jewish Center of New York and a former president of the Board of Jewish Education of Greater New York.
One of the defendants in the 9-11 victims' tort litigation is the Israeli-owned and Mossad-run airport security and passenger screening company Huntleigh USA Corp. Huntleigh USA is a wholly owned subsidiary of an Israeli company called International Consultants on Targeted Security (ICTS) International N.V., a Netherlands-based aviation and transportation security firm headed by "former [Israeli] military commanding officers and veterans of government intelligence and security agencies [Mossad, Shin Bet, etc.]."
Why, in the 9-11 terror case in which an Israeli security company is a key defendant and individuals from Israeli military intelligence are suspected of being involved, was Hellerstein chosen to preside over all 9-11 victim lawsuits -- and who chose him?