Jury selection in second World Trade Center insurance trial to begin

Tuesday, October 12th 2004, 6:06 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) _ World Trade Center leaseholder Larry Silverstein suffered a financial blow earlier this year when a federal jury ruled that for insurance purposes, the planes hitting the twin towers on Sept. 11, 2001, constituted one event _ not two.

His lawyers were hoping that in the second round of the legal battle, a jury could be convinced otherwise. Jury selection was scheduled to begin Tuesday.

Silverstein argued in the first trial, which ended in May, that he should receive $7 billion, or twice the $3.5 billion insurance policy on the trade center. That trial focused on whether 13 insurers that provided the bulk of the trade center's coverage were bound by a brokers contract.

In the second phase, involving nine insurers, Silverstein stands to collect $1.1 billion more if his lawyers are successful in arguing the attack was two events. Opening statements are scheduled to begin next Monday.

The second trial may include more evidence about what actually occurred on Sept. 11.

Silverstein, who could not be reached for comment Monday, has said he plans to appeal the first verdict. The judge has instructed lawyers involved in the case not to talk with reporters.

Silverstein has vowed to rebuild 10 million square feet of office space at ground zero regardless of how much money he collects from insurers. He and redevelopment officials plan to construct the Freedom Tower, other skyscrapers and cultural buildings within the next decade.