Thursday, September 22, 2011

Court of Appeals Dismisses Complaints From 1993 World Trade Center Bombing Victims

Today, the Court of Appeals in Matter of World Trade Center Bombing Ltg. dismissed a lawsuit brought against the Port Authority for the 1993 World Trade Center Bombing.  The Court held that in performing security for the general public the Port Authority was performing a governmental or proprietary function and that it properly exercised its discretion in its security decisions to entite it to the common-law defense of governmental immunity. 

According to the 4-3 majority: "Our courts simply cannot ignore that this policy-based doctrine is intended to afford deference to the exercise of discretion by the officials of municipalities and governmental entities, especially with respect to security measures and the deployment of limited police resources. Governmental entities cannot be expected to be absolute, infallible guarantors of public safety, but in order to encourage them to engage in the affirmative conduct of diligently investigating security vulnerabilities and implementing appropriate safeguards, they must be provided with the latitude to render those critical decisions without threat of legal repercussion."

This case is also notable in that Chief Judge Lippman and Judge Smith did not take part.  Justice Mercure from the Third Department and Judge Prudenti from the Second Department sat by deisgnation.  Judge Mercure joined the majority and Judge Prudenti joined the dissent.