Families of Sept. Hijack Victims File Suit

Six families are suing airlines. A study presents a grim post-Sept. 11 economic outlook. Surprisingly few people were treated for injuries after the World Trade Center collapse. A Sept. 11 widow returns to work as a flight attendant.

Families of Sept. 11 Hijack Victims File Suit

W A S H I N G T O N, Jan. 11 — The families of six passengers who were aboard airplanes that crashed on Sept. 11 sued the airlines and airport security companies today, claiming they failed to adequately protect passengers from the hijackers.

The lawsuits, filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, claim wrongful death, request a trial by jury and seek unspecified damages.

The lawsuits name American and United airlines; Huntleigh USA Corp., which provides security at Boston's Logan Airport; and Argenbright Security Inc., which operates at Dulles International Airport and Newark Airport.

Those were the three airports where the hijacked planes departed.

By filing the lawsuits, the families forfeit any money from the federal Victims Compensation Fund, which is available only to those families that agree not to sue the airlines or other entities. The average compensation award from the fund is expected to be $1.6 million.

The victims' attorney is former Transportation Department inspector general Mary Schiavo, a vocal critic of government and airline safety policies.

A news release from Schiavo's law firm said the families chose to file a lawsuit instead of going to the fund to "expose years of ineffective security practices, know the truth, improve security and accord accountability."

The families are identified only by initials "because some fear public and government backlash in exercising their legal rights to hold accountable those whose negligence allowed the terrorists' plot to succeed," Schiavo said.

The families had relatives aboard the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center's south tower, Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field.

Schiavo said Boeing, the flight schools that trained the hijackers and the Federal Aviation Administration also may be added to the lawsuits, which are the second related to the Sept. 11 attacks.

The first lawsuit was filed Dec. 20 by Ellen Mariani of Derry, N.H., for the loss of her husband, Louis Mariani, a passenger on the United plane that hit the south tower.

United spokesman Chris Brathwaite and Huntleigh spokeswoman Jessica Neal had no comment on the lawsuit. Phone calls to American Airlines and Argenbright Security were not immediately returned.

—The Associated Press

Study: Attacks Will Wipe Out 1.6M Jobs in 2002

L O S A N G E L E S, Jan. 11 — A study released today predicts the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks will reverberate through the U.S. economy for years, wiping out more than 1.6 million jobs in 2002 alone.

The losses will hit cities with exposure to the tourism and airline sectors hardest, but will also spread across a wide range of industries, from dining to financial services, according to the Milken Institute, a Santa Monica-based economic think-tank.

New York City will lose nearly 150,000 jobs in 2002, followed by Los Angeles with 69,000 jobs, and Chicago with at least 68,000 jobs. Already, 248,000 jobs have been lost nationwide because of the attacks, the institute said.

"The attacks will be impacting economic activity as late as 2004," said Ross DeVol, director of regional studies at the Milken Institute and principal author of the report. "The good news is that many of those jobs should come back."

Las Vegas will prove the single most vulnerable metropolitan area, likely to see nearly 5 percent fewer jobs this year because of the attacks.

— The Associated Press

Less Than 800 Treated After WTC Collapse

N E W Y O R K, Jan. 11 — Fewer than 800 people were treated at the hospitals nearest the felled World Trade Center over the two days following the Sept. 11 attack, a study released Thursday shows.

Of those, 18 percent were hospitalized for injuries, indicating that most people either walked away from the disaster or died when the 110-story towers collapsed. An estimated 18,000 workers escaped the tragedy that claimed nearly 2,900 lives.

Injured people began arriving at hospitals within minutes of the attack, with the number peaking two to three hours later. About half received care within seven hours of the attack.

"We found most of the injured had inhalation and eye injuries and were treated on an outpatient basis within hours of the attacks," said Dr. Dan Budnitz, one of the report's authors.

The study appears in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Using data from the city health department, it analyzed the number and severity of those treated at four emergency departments closest to the site and a fifth hospital used as a burn referral center.

— The Associated Press

Widow of Sept. 11 Pilot Will Return to Work as Flight Attendant

D E N V E R, Jan. 11 — Sandy Dahl, the widow of a pilot whose jet was hijacked on Sept. 11, plans to return to work as a flight attendant but says she will "scream and yell" to change the industry and make the skies safer.

Dahl's husband, Jason Dahl, was one of 44 people killed when United Flight 93 plunged into a field in Pennsylvania, apparently after some of those aboard fought the hijackers.

Dahl said Tuesday that she plans to return to work at the end of February and is taking self-defense courses specifically for flight attendants.

She said flight attendants are routinely trained to defuse tense situations but are not taught how to defend themselves or passengers.

"I don't think that's going to work anymore," she said. "To live, we're going to have to be aggressive, but only when it's appropriate."

Dahl also said she would rather see the military than the Transportation Department in charge of aviation security.

"If a person screwed up and let things go by at a security checkpoint, they'd have to answer to a lot stronger boss if it was military," she said.

— The Associated Press

Man Who Ran Past Airport Security Could Face Jail Time

A T L A N T A, Jan. 11 — The man whose dash past security guards shut down Atlanta's airport has been charged with trespassing and reckless conduct.

Both of the charges are misdemeanors, but Michael Shane Lasseter could face up to two years in jail and $2,000 in fines if he is convicted, Clayton County Solicitor Keith Martin said Thursday.

He is scheduled to be arraigned on Feb. 1.

Lasseter, a financial executive from Gainesville who turned 33 on Thursday, ran past two security guards and down an up-escalator into a restricted area at Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport on Nov. 16. He told police he had left the airport's secure area to retrieve a forgotten camera bag and then rushed to get back to his son, whom he had left with an uncle at an airline gate.

Airport officials shut down operations for three hours, evacuating 10,000 people and disrupting air travel up and down the East Coast. Airlines say the disruption cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Lasseter also may face a $3,300 fine from the Federal Aviation Administration and AirTran Airways filed a lawsuit against him.

To some of the travelers whose trips were disrupted as a result of the security breach, the stiffer the punishment the better.

Atlanta homemaker Jolene Myers, 38, who missed her mother's funeral after officials shut down the airport, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution she "can never forgive" Lasseter for his actions.

"They should throw the book at him," Alpharetta businessman Ron Landis, 51, said.

But Patricia Vincent, 41, a graphic designer from White Plains, N.Y., said Lasseter has suffered enough after being "the laughingstock of the entire nation."

— The Associated Press

Grocery Refuses Dad’s Coins for Baby Food, Fears Anthrax

P O R T S M O U T H, N.H., Jan. 11 — A father who scraped up $3.13 in change to buy baby food was foiled when a grocery store refused to accept the coins, citing a fear of anthrax.

Anthony Ouellette went to another store and used a coin-counting machine to tally his 150 rolled pennies and $1.63 in loose pennies, nickels and dimes.

"I didn't want to go through that again because it's kind of embarrassing," said Ouellette, 27, who works three jobs to pay bills for 5-month-old Abbygail and the rest of his family.

Ouellette took the change to the Market Basket on Monday to buy some milk, three jars of baby food and a newspaper, but the cash register clerk said she could not take rolled coins.

He offered to unroll the $1.50, but a supervisor refused the idea.

"I just couldn't believe it. Anybody takes change, I thought," Ouellette said. "I could understand if I came in there with $50 or $60 worth of change."

Manager Darin Artus said the company began rejecting rolled coins after anthrax scares at other supermarkets, where rolled coins concealed a powdery substance.

"I don't want to put a bunch of pennies in the drawer," he said Wednesday.

— The Associated Press