2004-07-16 / Front Page

Most Local AA 587 Cases End In Negotiated Settlement

By Howard Schwach

Most Local AA 587 Cases End In Negotiated Settlement

By Howard Schwach

After nine months of negotiations being monitored by Federal Justice Harold Sweet, at least three of the five families of local victims of the crash of American Airlines Flight 587 into Belle Harbor in November of 2001 have settled their lawsuits with negotiated settlements.

As reported in last week’s Wave, nearly two-thirds of the families of the 260 persons who died on the plane have reached settlements as well.

Kenneth Nolan, an attorney with the New York City firm of Spizer and Krauss, says that he expects the "overwhelming majority" of the local cases to be settled by the end of the year.

"We have been in negotiation for the past six to nine months," Nolan said. "Discovery has stopped and there is a present impasse on some cases where the families have rejected settlements."

Nolan said that the average monetary settlement of those locals who have accepted the court’s deal is between one and three million dollars, "depending on age, marital status and income."

Nolan said that Judge Sweet, who sites in the Federal Court for Southern District of New York, is away for the summer.

The next status conference will be held in Sweet’s courtroom at 500 Pearl Street on September 15.

Nolan thinks that if a number of litigants refuse the negotiated settlements then the discovery process may begin anew.

"There is a possibility that discovery might begin by the end of the year, or perhaps early next year," Nolan, who represents three of the five local victims, said. "There is no way of knowing for sure before the next hearing."

Robert Spraugg, an attorney with Kriendler and Kriendler, the firm that heads the committee of attorneys, told The Wave, "about 168 of the 265 cases have been settled. In 80 cases or so, there is no settlement because the negotiations broke down."

Spraugg said that the focus so far has been on those who died in the crash and that those who had property damage alone, including those who lost their homes in the crash, will be addressed when the death cases are settled.

Two of the homes in the crash area on Beach 131 Street and Newport Avenue are under construction. Other lots remain fallow.


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