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Jury: Sept. 11 Was Two Events



NEW YORK (Dec. 6) - A federal jury decided Monday that the destruction of the World Trade Center was two events for insurance purposes, meaning leaseholder Larry Silverstein can collect twice from companies because separate planes hit two towers.

The verdict in U.S. District Court in Manhattan was the latest twist in Silverstein's efforts to turn his $3.5 billion insurance policy on the trade center complex into a $7 billion payout.

The jury was asked to rule specifically whether the terrorism could be considered one or two events for nine of the trade center's 24 insurance companies.

Regardless of the insurance payout, Silverstein and redevelopment officials have promised to rebuild the trade center complex in the next decade, including 10 million square feet of office space, a memorial and cultural buildings.

The insurance companies involved in the case were: Travelers Indemnity Co., Industrial Risk Insurers, Royal Indemnity Co., Allianz Insurance Co., Tokio Marine and Fire Insurance Co., Twin City Fire Insurance Co., Tig Insurance Co., Westfield WTC LLC and Zurich American Insurance Co.

In her closing argument, lawyer Carolyn H. Williams argued on behalf of the companies that the hijacked planes were like guided missiles and that the insurance payout should not depend on whether terrorists used "one or two or 10 or 100 weapons."

On behalf of Silverstein, attorney Bernard Nussbaum said there was precedent in the insurance industry to find the terrorism was two events. A California case concluded that four separate insurance events occurred when an arsonist set four separate fires, including two six minutes apart in courthouses 200 yards apart.

12/06/04 17:43 EST