9/11 lawsuit blames United Airlines for lapse

Last Updated: Saturday, September 17, 2011 - 17:50

New York: A lawsuit filed in a federal court
here has pointed figures at United Airlines for security
failures during the 9/11 attacks, saying the five terrorists
who boarded the flight from Boston were cleared by a staff who
could not speak or understand English and did not even know
who Osama bin Laden was.

The documents, revealing details not previously made
public, were filed in federal district court in Manhattan by
lawyers on behalf of the family of Mark Bavis, who was on
United Flight 175 that crashed into the World Trade Centre.

The lawsuit is the only remaining wrongful-death lawsuit
out of the 100 filed after the attacks.
The case against United and security firm Huntleigh USA
will go on trial in November.

"This document demonstrates that 9/11 was completely
preventable at the checkpoint for this flight, and that United
did not live up to its responsibilities for security," Donald
Migliori, a lawyer for the family, said in a New York Times
report.

The lawsuit contends that United`s checkpoint at Boston`s
Logan International Airport, from where the terrorists boarded
Flight 175, was manned by a staff that did not have the
necessary training or the experience to do their jobs.

Some screeners` training records showed that they could
not read airline tickets and marking labels, while one
supervisor on duty was a 19-year-old employee who had just
about three months of experience, the lawyers said.

"Many of United and Huntleigh`s security screeners on duty
on 9/11 were unable to speak or understand English," the
lawyers said in the lawsuit.

"One pre-board screener had such a poor grasp of the
English language that she required an interpreter during her
deposition," they added.

Citing testimony given at the time of deposition by the
screeners, the lawsuit said at least nine screeners on duty on
September 11 had never heard of bin Laden or al Qaeda.

The hijackers had used knives, Mace and had threatened
that a bomb would go off to take control of the flight.
The lawsuit alleges that due to the lack of proper
training, the screeners and staff at the checkpoint could not
even identify the Mace that the terrorists had carried in
their bags, thereby failing to prevent the hijackers from
carrying it onboard the plane.

"Four screeners working the Flight 175 checkpoint did not
even know what Mace was," the lawyers said.
"One of the screeners was still unable to identify Mace
when handed the Mace canister".

The Bavis lawyers have contended in the lawsuit that
United had "a long history of failing to substantially comply
with the federal aviation security regulations".

In their response, the defence lawyers have said neither
United nor Huntleigh can be held responsible under federal or
state law for "not stopping an attack that the entire federal
government was unable to predict, plan against or prevent".
United had in place a security system that was established
at the government`s direction.

"The terrorists who perpetrated these attacks clearly
studied and exploited the government`s design of this system.
Their plot did not require any element of the system to fail,"
the defence contended.

PTI



First Published: Saturday, September 17, 2011 - 17:22

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