2004-07-09 / Front Page

AA 587 Settlements May End Search For Truth

By Howard Schwach

AA 587 Settlements
May End Search For Truth

By Howard Schwach

With the third anniversary of the crash of American Airlines 587 into the streets of Belle Harbor rapidly approaching, nearly two-thirds of the families of the 260 people who were on the plane have reportedly settled with attorneys representing both the airlines and Airbus International, the company that built the A300-600 aircraft.

While the settlements are confidential, experts close to those settlement talks say that they range from $750 thousand to more than $2 million, depending on the victim and his or her circumstances.

While the money has been accepted by the majority of those families involved, a number of other family members are holding out - not for more money, but for what they consider to be a "search for the truth."

According to Bianca Rodriquez, an attorney for the law firm of Kreindler and Kreindler, who heads a committee of lawyers for the family members, reported in a story in The Wave on the second anniversary of the crash, Judge Harold Sweet, sitting in the federal Southern District for New York, agreed to stop the discovery process when American Airlines and Airbus agreed to a "funding agreement" that called for each to share in the payouts to those who were impacted by the crash.

"This is a temporary agreement," Rodriquez said at that time. "After all the payouts are made, then the two parties will go to trial to decide the ultimate responsibility [for the crash],"

Sweet said at the time that he would reopen the discovery process, designed to find out what happened and who was responsible should the parties involved not be able to come to an agreement.

With the acceptance of the agreement by the majority of the family members, however, the discovery process remains in limbo.

One family member, who asked to remain anonymous because of "delicate negotiations," said, "many of the family members were pressured to take the settlements rather than waiting to find out who really killed their relatives."

Calls to Rodriquez to ascertain where the Belle Harbor residents stand in the settlement process went unreturned.

One home at the crash site on the corner of Beach 131 Street and Newport Avenue has been completed and another, just south of that home, is under construction.

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