Howard Lutnick Comments: Cantor Fitzgerald, American Airline Settle Over 9/11 Lawsuit

December 18, 2013, Wall Street Journal

Cantor Fitzgerald LP, American Airlines Group Inc. and the airline’s insurers agreed to a $135 million settlement tied to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, people familiar with the matter said Tuesday.

The financial-services company filed a lawsuit against the airline over losses incurred during the attacks on the World Trade Center.

Cantor Fitzgerald, which had offices in the north tower and lost 658 employees in the attacks, filed the lawsuit in 2004, accusing the airline of negligence in allowing the five hijackers to board Flight 11. The firm sought compensation for business interruption and property losses it incurred as a result of the attack.

The companies last week announced they had settled the suit, said a person familiar with the case. John Stoviak, a lawyer representing Cantor, revealed the $135 million figure during a hearing Tuesday in federal court in Manhattan, the person said.

"For us, there is no way to describe this compromise with inapt words like ordinary, fair or reasonable," Cantor Fitzgerald Chairman and Chief Executive Howard Lutnick said in a statement. "All we can say is that the legal formality of this matter is over."

The settlement must be approved by U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein, who is expected to render his decision on Jan. 13.

The $135 million will go to Cantor Fitzgerald, a person close to the case said. Judge Hellerstein ruled that New York law prohibits employers from suing for the wrongful deaths of its workers.

"American Airlines and the courageous crew members and passengers on Flight 77 and Flight 11 were all victims of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001," said an American Airlines spokesman in a statement. The airline added that it has "vigorously defended itself in litigation brought against it by property owners and their insurers."