|Divided Federal Appeals Court Panel Rules: Negligence Did Not Cause Building 7’s Collapse; Dissenting Judge Asks, ‘What Did?’|
|Written by Dennis P. McMahon, Esq, Gregg Roberts|
|Friday, 27 December 2013 02:14|
In a 2-1 split decision, [Aegis_v_Silverstein_COA_Opinion.pdf] a federal appeals court panel in the Second Circuit ruled that negligence didn’t cause the collapse of World Trade Center Building 7, on September 11, 2001. In his dissenting opinion, Circuit Court Judge Richard Wesley stated, “One would think that, on this record, the majority, would want to hear from defendants’ experts on why 7WTC collapsed.”
Con Ed, a New York City power utility company that, along with its insurers, sued the defendants – 7 World Trade Co., L.P., Silverstein Development Corp., and Silverstein Properties, Inc. – who designed, built, operated, and maintained Building 7. The plaintiffs alleged that the defendants’ negligence had caused Building 7 to collapse, thereby destroying the electrical substation owned by Con Ed directly underneath the building.The lawsuit involved an action brought by
In the trial court action, Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein had dismissed the claims against defendants 7 World Trade Co., L.P., Silverstein Development Corp., and Silverstein Properties, Inc. A subsequent opinion and order issued by Hellerstein dismissed the claims against Tishman Construction Corp. and the Office of Irwin G. Cantor, P.C. An appeal to the Second Circuit followed.
The Second Circuit panel affirmed Hellerstein’s decision “on the alternative ground that even assuming negligence on the part of the defendants, any such negligence was not the cause-in-fact of the collapse of 7WTC.” Implausibly, the panel majority “reasoned” that “It is simply incompatible with common sense and experience to hold that defendants were required to design and construct a building that would survive the events of September 11, 2001.” Presumably the panel was referring to the two jetliners that flew into the Towers. But since the court majority has no more experience with jetliners flying into skyscrapers than the rest of us do, how could common sense and experience control?
It appears that the panel was unaware of, or simply ignored, the fact that the Twin Towers were built to withstand jetliner impact and that they were designed to survive the horrendous fires that would naturally result from such an impact. See “FAQ #9: Were the Twin Towers Designed to Survive the Impact of the Airplanes?” and “World Trade Center Twin Towers: The Implausibility of the Official Theory.”
The panel majority got another fact wrong when it stated that “...grappling with the death of hundreds of firefighters and a non-existent supply of water, the New York City Fire Department made the decision to establish a collapse zone and walk away, rather than fight the fire.” In fact, there was an inexhaustible supply of water nearby, in the form of the Hudson River, and it was actively used to fight the fires at Ground Zero:
“Alongside two other FDNY fireboats, John D. McKean and Fire Fighter, [John J. Harvey] pumped water at the site for 80 hours, until water mains were restored.” John J. Harvey “is among the most powerful fireboats ever built, capable of pumping up to 18,000 gallons of water a minute.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_J._Harvey, citing http://www.powerandmotoryacht.com/other/born-again-hero). Such a flow rate is about 60 times higher than is typically available in a single skyscraper standpipe (Standpipe System Operations: Engine Company Basics, 2/1/1996, http://www.fireengineering.com/articles/print/volume-149/issue-2/features/standpipe-system-operations-engine-company-basics.html).
WTC 7 was not significantly farther from the river than was either of the Twin Towers:
The dissent by Judge Wesley states in its entirety:
“…experts have offered opinions that 7WTC did not collapse as a result of structural damage from falling debris.” – Judge Richard Wesley “Plaintiffs’ experts have articulated a standard of care: high-rise buildings must be built to withstand a fire that cannot be extinguished by the efforts of firefighters. Plaintiffs’ experts have also identified a deviation from that standard: the building was designed and erected in such a way that it was subject to failure if a fire broke out that could not be quelled. They have tied that standard and its deviation to the injury for which they seek recompense. Lastly, plaintiffs’ experts have offered opinions that 7WTC did not collapse as a result of structural damage from falling debris.
“One would think that, on this record, the majority, [sic] would want to hear from defendants’ experts on why 7WTC collapsed. It may well be that causation, be it proximate or in fact, can be decided as a matter of law [sic] in the district court after a careful review of all expert submissions or that a trial will result in a defendants’ verdict, but that is not the path the majority has chosen for this case. I would remand the matter to the district
If the case had been remanded to the district court, the plaintiffs might have been given the opportunity to present expert testimony such as that provided here by the late Dutch controlled-demolition expert Danny Jowenko. Inexplicably, however, given the overwhelming amount of evidence indicating that Building 7 was brought down in a controlled demolition, the plaintiffs actually stipulated that “7WTC collapsed as a result of fire ignited by burning debris from the collapse of One World Trade Center.” Why the plaintiffs would adopt such an inferior position when evidence of controlled demolition, and thus malfeasance, has been available publicly for years, was not addressed in the court’s decision.
Given the plaintiffs’ approach, there was no opportunity for the judges to consider the highly credible witness testimony of explosions occurring at Building 7 as presented by the late Barry Jennings, former Deputy Director of Emergency Services Department for the New York City Housing Authority, and Michael Hess, former New York City Corporation Counsel.
In rendering its decision, the panel majority regurgitated the official myths of 9/11, and in the process continually disregarded the tenet that hearsay evidence is unreliable and generally inadmissible. In one such instance, the court noted as follows: “Chief of Department Peter Hayden consulted with an [unidentified] engineer, [saying] ‘We posed to him the question that considering the structural damage that was obvious to the building on the southwest corner, and the amount of fire damage that was occurring within the building, could we anticipate a collapse and if so, when. He said yes, and he gave an approximate time of five to six hours, which was pretty much right on the money because the building collapsed about 5 o’clock that afternoon.’”
Who was this unidentified engineer? How did he or she calculate that Building 7 would be coming down in “five to six hours” when no high-rise had ever before collapsed due to “normal office fires”? What was the basis of the engineer’s calculation? And how is it that this one viewpoint (hearsay testimony) was deemed accurate and trustworthy?
It would be most interesting to place this engineer under oath, and have him be subjected to cross-examination. However, given the panel’s decision to affirm Hellerstein’s dismissal of the case, and barring an appeal to the Supreme Court followed by a highly unlikely reversal, there will be no such opportunity – unless perhaps if the plaintiffs were to become aware of the overwhelming evidence indicating that Building 7 was brought down by controlled demolition, and while citing this “new” (to them) evidence, bring an action based on the intentional destruction of Building 7, as was (in the first author’s view) inadvertently admitted by the defendants’ principal, Larry Silverstein, some time ago.