U.S. District Court Judge Michael Mukasey has set Feb. 9, 2004 as the date for the first of several trials to determine the outcome of the lawsuit pitting Swiss Re, Travelers and other insurers of the World Trade Center against master leaseholder Silverstein Properties.
Earlier decisions have mandated separate trails on the issues of coverage, i.e. whether the Sept. 11 attacks constituted a single “occurence,” or two loss events. The first trial will consider which of the companies signed a binder known as the “WilProp” form, which makes references to multiple occurrences as one event. A second trial would determine which ones signed a Travelers’ form or other document that doesn’t contain such language.
A jury will be asked to determine which insurers remaining in the case relied on which form. Their decisions will then guide subsequent trials to determine the amount of recovery. The difference between the positions is approximately $3.5 billion.
Meanwhile settlement negotiations, presided over by former Judge John Martin, who had originally handled the case, continue. New York’s Governor George Pataki has urged a settlement, as have many other public and private officials, but so far the two sides have been unable to agree.
What amount will eventually be available to rebuild the WTC complex will be significantly affected by the outcome of the case.