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"Editorial: Massport avoids undue stigma"
Friday, July 29, 2011
Massport avoids undue stigma
The Boston (MA) Globe
THE RELATIVES of Mark Bavis, the 9/11 victim who sued Massport over security
failures, were entitled to their day in court. On Wednesday, the family made
its best arguments, and Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein ruled that its claim
against Massport were unjustified. The decision was painful to relatives of
Bavis, who was only 31 when he died on American Airlines Flight 175. But
legally, it was the right outcome, and the family showed graciousness in
accepting it and reiterating their respect for the system.
The judge's decision marks the end of a nearly 10-year legal odyssey for
Massport. The Bavises were the last 9/11 family with an unresolved claim
against the agency that operates Logan Airport, out of which two of the
hijacked planes took off. The end of this case brings some measure of
closure to hundreds of airport and Massachusetts State Police employees who
were working in the days and weeks leading up to the hijackings.
In those days, airlines took care of their own security; state police
patrolled the airport itself. The Bavises argued that Massport itself should
bear some responsibility for security lapses, and maintained that the
airport had received a complaint about Middle Eastern-looking men inspecting
the premises in the weeks before the hijackings. No one knows who those men
were, or if there were any men at all. And even if all the assertions in the
Bavises' complaint proved true, Judge Hellerstein concluded, it would not
amount to an actionable claim against Massport.
His decision spared Massport an undeserved stigma. There is no reason to
believe that negligence on the part of Logan Airport led to the worst
terrorist attack in American history. That's not to say that Massport
needn't have tightened security, and revamped its procedures in light of the
attack. Hellerstein's decision relieves Massport of an unjustified claim;
but the responsibility to patrol and protect the airport to the very best of
its ability remains as important as ever.
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