- The Washington Times - Monday, February 25, 2002

Was the September 11 attack on New York one event or two? The answer is worth more than $3.5 billion, one way or another.
The insurance companies that covered the World Trade Center refuse to pay for two losses, arguing that there was only one "occurrence" on September 11 and $3.547 billion is the maximum payment for one loss.
But the outcome may be guided by some of at least three of those companies' own victories in other cases of closely timed events, when the companies successfully argued for the imposition of multiple deductibles that reduced payouts to the customers.
Real-estate developer Larry Silverstein says there were two losses and wants the U.S. District Court in Manhattan to tell insurers how to count.
He will get about $7.1 billion, if federal court rules the 8:46 a.m. crash of American Airlines Flight 11 into the north tower was a separate "occurrence" from the 9:04 a.m. demolition of the south tower by the hijacked United Airlines Flight 175.
Insurance companies say the loss was the continuous execution of a "single terrorist plan" conceived by Osama bin Laden.
Mr. Silverstein's legal filings rely heavily on court decisions won by insurance companies.
His favorite is a federal appeals court decision, coincidentally handed down Sept. 11, 2001.
It involves $14 million in damages from the 1995 burning of four courthouses in Contra Costa County, Calif., where arsonist Richard D. Stevens set three of the fires within 66 minutes.
Silverstein lawyer Herbert M. Wachtell savors the fact that the decision was a big victory for Travelers Indemnity Co., whose lawyers successfully argued the four courthouse fires were separate events.
The ruling reduced Travelers' payment to two other insurance companies, Lexington Insurance and Houston Casualty that wrote the county's insurance and said the loss of the four courthouses amounted to one event.
The World Trade Center case could hinge on a Travelers' policy.
Furthering the irony is the fact that both Lexington Insurance and Houston Casualty were among the 25 insurers of World Trade Center and now find Travelers on their side, arguing that destruction of the two buildings was a single event.
In deciding the courthouse case, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals invoked a 1983 Texas case about two schools several blocks apart torched by a person who set the fires one hour and 45 minutes apart.
In that ruling against Goose Creek school district, the Texas Court of Appeals said the events were separate and permitted Continental Casualty Co. to reduce its payments by two separate $100,000 deductibles instead of one.
"[Who caused the fires] could have no bearing on the fact that two fires distinguishable in space and time occurred and that one did not cause the other," the Texas court said. "[W]here there are two fires at two different places with two separate causal factors, there are two loss occurrences."
Mr. Wachtell also relies on a 1959 New York case, Arthur A. Johnson vs. Indemnity Insurance Co., which said the collapse 50 minutes apart of basement walls in two adjacent buildings during a heavy rain "were in fact separate disastrous events."
Mr. Wachtell took pains to explain to the court parallels between that event and the catastrophic crumbling of the World Trade Center, believed to have been caused by the cumulative weight of the upper floors falling after burning aviation fuel melted support beams.
"Each of these fires, started almost 20 minutes apart from two separate airplane crashes, was 'an event of unfortunate character,'" Mr. Wachtell argued. "Like the collapses in Arthur A. Johnson, there is no proof that the collapse of the first tower caused the failure of the second."
He disputed insurance company arguments that the "single terrorist plan" makes the case of the twin towers different.
"Any such 'terrorist plan' would not be the efficient proximate cause of the losses. As a matter of law, it would be a remote cause," he said.

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