Letter to Federal Judge Hellerstein (9-11 Litigation)


September 2, 2003


The Honorable Alvin K. Hellerstein

United States District Judge

Daniel Patrick Moynihan United States Courthouse

500 Pearl Street, Room 910

New York, NY 10007-1312


In re September 11 Litigation, 21 MC 97 (AKH) – should ground victims recover?

Dear Judge Hellerstein:

I am a legal studies professor in Georgia State University’s Robinson College of Business, and a frequent commentator on the government’s Victim Compensation Fund (including “7 Families Sue Administrator of 9/11 Fund,” The New York Times, Jan. 27, 2003).  I have no financial interest in the September 11 Litigation.

I understand that you are presently considering whether ground victims should be able to sustain a claim against the aviation defendants.  I believe (under a DiPonzio “scope of duty” analysis) that the harm to the ground victims does not fall within the class of “reasonably foreseeable hazards,” and thus the aviation defendants are not liable to ground victims.  See Reply Memorandum in Support of the Motion of the Aviation Defendants to Dismiss Ground Damage Claims, p. 30-31).

Alternatively, if you determine that a duty does exist and then rule that forseeability is a question of fact for a jury to decide, I have enclosed my position paper entitled:  9-11 & Airline Civil Liability. (pdf file)  This paper (written for lay people to understand foreseeability issues under Palsgraf/Derdiarian) concludes that while airline passengers should be able to recover damages from aviation defendants, the ground victims should not be able to recover in the instant case.

Please feel free to call, write, or e-mail me for follow up questions or concerns.




Perry Binder, J.D.

Assistant Professor of Legal Studies

Robinson College of Business

Member, The Florida Bar



Professor Binder’s 9-11 Civil Liability Web Site:  www.gsu.edu/~rmipzb/9-11.htm