Terror Attacks Committed Against American Citizens
Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001
Baumeister & Samuels is honored to have spent more than a decade representing families whose loved ones were killed in the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, including a number of the heroes on United Airlines Flight 93 who gave their lives in an effort to thwart the hijackers’ ultimate goal. We are also privileged and honored to have represented a wonderful woman who perished in the crash of Continental Connection Flight 3407 in 2009 after she lost her husband in the South Tower of the World Trade Center. She was a tireless advocate for the families of those killed in the terror attacks, and amongst her many accomplishments, was instrumental in pushing government leaders to form the 9/11 Commission which conducted an investigation into the terrorist attacks. We remain deeply saddened by her death.
Following the attacks, lawyers from the firm met with dozens of family members to evaluate their individual needs and circumstances to assess whether they could secure fair and reasonable compensation from the federal administrative plan established as part of the Air Transportation Safety and System Stabilization Act (Pub. L. No. 107-42, 115 Stat. 230 (2001) known as the “Victims Compensation Fund” enacted by Congress in the days following the attacks. We spent more than a year lobbying federal and state officials on behalf of all of the victims and their families to modify the terms of the Fund so as to make it a viable option for families facing very serious financial losses and fears about their ability to care for their families. We were ultimately able to represent many of our clients in hearings before the Special Master assigned to administer the Victims Compensation Fund, and we pursued traditional litigation remedies for others in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.
Following the resolution of their wrongful death claims, we have continued to pursue justice for the families of those who perished in the September 11, 2001 attacks following the successful strategy we employed in suing the government of Libya on behalf of the families of the victims of the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland. We filed lawsuits on behalf of our clients against the government of Saudi Arabia, members of the royal family, banks and various charities seeking to hold them accountable for civil damages for financing al Qaeda. In doing so, it is our goal to seek complete justice for our clients and other victims of terrorism, and deter others from promoting future terrorist acts against Americans. Our lawsuits, which were consolidated with those filed by hundreds of other surviving family members in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, continue to make their way through the litigation process to this day.
Pan Am Flight 103
On December 21, 1988, a Boeing 747 aircraft being operated as Pan Am Flight 103 was destroyed over the village of Lockerbie, Scotland when an improvised explosive device hidden inside a portable radio packed in a suitcase loaded inside a cargo container was detonated. All 259 passengers and crew were killed, as well as 11 residents of the village.
After conducting several years of discovery against Pan Am and its wholly owned security subsidiary, the case was tried before a jury in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York. Mitch Baumeister was one of the primary trial attorneys responsible for presenting evidence and making arguments to the jury on behalf of all of the victims’ families, including the important final trial summation. Additionally, he delivered what has been described as a “blistering cross-examination” of Pan Am’s Chairman Thomas Plaskett who eventually conceded that he had no knowledge of the airline’s security operation blaming failures which permitted terrorists to load a suitcase containing a bomb on to the aircraft on other Pan Am employees. After more than three months of trial testimony, the jury returned a verdict of willful misconduct against Pan Am and its security company for their failure to provide adequate airport security in both Frankfurt and London which would have prevented the terrorists from placing a bomb on board a plane bound for the United States. Pan Am filed an appeal of the jury’s verdict and also sought a review of the verdict by the United States Supreme Court, neither of which were successful.
While Pan Am pursued its appellate rights, the families of the victims lobbied for, and obtained the legal right to sue Libya for the terrorist activities of its agents who placed the bomb on board the aircraft. The families continued to further their goals of justice by pushing the U.S. government to work with the international community and bring the agents to trial before Scottish judges sitting in the Hague World Court. In January 2001, Abdel Basset Al-Megrahi was convicted of carrying out the bombing.
In October 2002, Mitch Baumeister and a few other members of the Plaintiffs’ Committee entered into a historic $2.7 billion dollar settlement with the Libyan government to compensate the victims’ families. Recently, after almost 20 years of legal, political and diplomatic efforts, the families were finally and fully compensated for their loved ones’ deaths.