The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey does not have to pay a $4.5 million judgment to a woman who was injured in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing because the Court of Appeals found that the Port Authority was not liable for the bombing in a separate case, a divided New York state appellate panel has ruled.
The unsigned majority opinion Tuesday in Nash v. Port Authority, 129074/93, held that a lower court was right to vacate the judgment in favor of the woman even though it had become final and non-appealable, and the woman was not a party to the separate Court of Appeals case. The majority consisted of Justices David Friedman, Sheila Abdus-Salaam and Nelson Roman.
The woman, Linda Nash, was one of hundreds of people who sued the Port Authority over injuries sustained in the 1993 terrorist bombing of the World Trade Center. The plaintiffs alleged the Port Authority, which owned the World Trade Center, failed to keep the site secure.
Most of those cases were consolidated for an initial trial on liability. However, some plaintiffs, including Nash, proceeded with separate counsel.
In 2005, a jury found that the Port Authority was partly liable for the attack, and the case moved into the damages phase, in which individual plaintiffs were given trials on damages. In 2009, Nash was awarded $4.5 million plus 9 percent interest in damages.
The Port Authority never sought leave to appeal from that judgment, causing it to become final and non-appealable. However, it did seek leave to appeal a judgment in the case of another plaintiff, Antonio Ruiz. That case went to the Court of Appeals.
Nash submitted a brief to the Court of Appeals and participated in an initial oral argument, but subsequently withdrew from the appeal.
In September 2011, the Court of Appeals set aside the original verdict that the Port Authority was liable at all, finding it was shielded by governmental immunity.
Following that ruling, the Port Authority moved to vacate the judgment in favor of Nash, arguing that the judgment was based on a finding of liability that the Court of Appeals had rejected. Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Milton Tingling granted that motion on May 15, 2012.
The majority affirmed.