Silverstein Seeks to Broaden WTC Claims Suit

Silverstein Properties, the master leaseholder on the destroyed World Trade Center, has opened a new front in its ongoing battle with its insurers to recover for the loss on both of the twin towers by seeking court approval to bring other companies into its lawsuit with Swiss Re, the primary carrier.

Swiss Re originally filed a declarative relief action last October. It sought a decision that the terrorist conspiracy, which resulted in the destruction of both towers, was a single loss event. In which case only one of the buildings would be covered for around $3.5 billion.

Larry Silverstein promptly disputed the assertion, stating that, as two airplanes flew into two buildings there were two “occurrences” within the meaning of the binding memorandum of coverage agreed to by the group of 22 insurance companies, headed by Swiss Re.

A recent court decision called for an April 30 deadline to complete discovery proceedings, significantly pushing forward a possible trial date. (See IJ Website, Dec.18) On Friday Silverstein properties named Travelers in a lawsuit, and sought to combine the action with the Swiss Re proceedings. It also indicated that it would seek to bring in the other insurers, except ACE and XL with whom it is still in settlement negotiations. It has, however, sought a court order to prevent them from seeking arbitration on their policies in London.