- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 29, 2003

NEW YORK (AP) — An insurance dispute over whether the destruction of the World Trade Center’s twin towers represented one or two terrorist attacks will go to mediation, both sides agreed yesterday.

At a pretrial hearing, U.S. District Judge Michael Mukasey suggested that the trade center’s leaseholder and the insurers attempt to solve the matter with a mediator before a February jury trial.

The World Trade Center’s leaseholder, Larry Silverstein, has contended that the September 11 terrorist attacks were two events, not one, entitling him to an insurance payout of about $7 billion instead of $3.5 billion.

The trade center’s insurers, however, have argued that September 11 should be considered a single occurrence under the policy.

Judge John S. Martin, who previously handled the case but recently resigned to enter private practice, will serve as mediator. The talks were set to begin next week and can continue up to the trial date.

Mr. Silverstein praised Judge Mukasey for the mediation idea and said he’s optimistic that the public is closer to a “full, spectacular buildout of the World Trade Center.”

Previously, Judge Martin had ruled that the terrorist attack could not be considered two attacks as a matter of law but that a jury might decide in some instances that it was fair to call it two attacks.

The ruling was upheld by 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in September.

Mr. Silverstein estimates losses from terrorism at $8.2 billion. The total includes $5.7 billion for the twin 110-story skyscrapers, retail property at the site, and buildings 4 and 5, which were destroyed.

Barry Ostrager, a lawyer for Swiss Reinsurance Ltd., the company responsible for 22 percent of the coverage under the trade center’s multilayer policy, said, “We welcome Judge Martin’s involvement.”

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