[JURIST] Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein of the US District Court of Southern New York ruled [opinion, PDF] in an opinion published Friday that six wrongful death suits filed by survivors of victims who perished in the September 11 terrorist attacks [JURIST news archive] will proceed to trial [order, PDF] on the the issue of damages on September 4. In an unusual decision, Hellerstein severed the issues of damages and liability to speed up litigation, opting to proceed on with the issues of damages first because "limited discovery is needed" and also because the "alleged negligence of airlines and their security contractors have no relation to the amount of compensatory damages" that plaintiffs could recover. Hellerstein said that proceeding with the damages trials first would "hasten the resolution" of the remaining 41 cases which have not been resolved after nearly six years following the attacks and "be a significant step in mending the wounds left open by the terrorist-related aircraft crashes of September 11, 2001."
A total of 95 plaintiffs have refused the settlements offered by the federal September 11th Victim Compensation Fund [official website], which distributed over $7 billion in public funds to families and victims injured in the attacks in exchange for the victims to forfeit their right to bring claims in court. Reuters has more.