Last 9/11 Family Settles Suit Over Death of Mark Bavis at Trade Center

10 years after 9/11, Mark Bavis' family settles its lawsuit.

ByABC News
August 23, 2011, 1:24 PM

Sept. 21, 2011 — -- Of 2,977 victims who lost their lives as a result of the 9/11 attacks, the last survivor's family has settled its claims with the airline and a security company they had said were negligent in the death of their son and brother, Mark Bavis.

Don Migliori, an attorney representing the Bavis family, said the family's motivation for the lawsuit was to give Mark a voice, and they did so when publicly filing their evidence last week. Nearly all the families who lost loved ones in the attacks settled their claims through a $7 billion victims' fund established by Congress.

"They decided they have given as much voice as they can through the court system," Migliori said.

Mary Bavis, the named plaintiff, is the mother of Mark Bavis who was aboard United Airlines flight 175 from Boston when it struck the South Tower of the World Trade Center. The Bavis family's trial was scheduled for November in New York City against United Airlines and security company Huntleigh.

Other companies and cities that the Bavis initially sued had been dropped from the suit over time. The New York district court dismissed Massport, for example, which oversees Boston Logan airport, focusing on the checkpoint process, Migliori said. U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein wrote in a court memo on Sept. 7 that United Airlines and Huntleigh USA may have had to assume the burden of proof in trial.

Migliori said nine years after filing the suit, the family settled on Monday night, realizing the court "changed the direction" in which they could describe how the hijackers passed the security checkpoints.

"While they hoped for a whole trial, they realized the court would not let them give out more information than what they filed last week," Migliori said.

In those public filings, the Bavis family says some Huntleigh security screeners could not recognize prohibited pepper spray, which hijackers used aboard the planes, could not describe Osama bin Laden despite being a known threat in 2001, and could not speak or understand English effectively.

But Migliori said the most "fundamental" security flaw was at the airport ticket counter. The Bavis family said the hijackers were not able to answer the most "basic" security questions but still passed through: if they packed their own carry-on luggage and had it with them at all times.

The family released a letter today to the public after this week's settlement explaining their position.

"With the stroke of his pen, Judge Hellerstein very cleverly changed this lawsuit. The lawsuit was about wrongful death, gross negligence and a complete lack of appreciation for the value of human life," the family wrote. "He instead made it a case about a federal regulation. He ignored 100 years of aviation law and relied on an environmental case to apply federal preemption. He essentially gutted the case so that the truth about what led to the events of Sept. 11, 2001, would never be told at trial."

"Last week's filing was comprehensive but it wasn't nearly as detailed as what our experts and witnesses testified. While the family is gratified it could present that information to the public, it was tempered that the court would not let them tell the whole story," Migliori told ABC News.

The Bavis family had said it is not interested in money but wants justice.

"From the very beginning my family has wanted accountability and an airing of the facts to explain why this happened so easily and we have yet to get there," Mike Bavis, the victim's brother, told ABC News before the settlement was announced.