United Airlines cannot be held liable for the destruction of 7 World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, because it shared responsibility for security at the Portland, Maine, airport that served as the starting point for two hijackers, Southern District Judge Alvin Hellerstein (See Profile) ruled on Nov. 21. “Other than residual authority” for a security screening checkpoint at the Portland International Jetport, the judge said, United had “no connection” to American Airlines Flight #11, the plane that slammed into the north tower, causing flaming debris to hit 7WTC, which caught fire and collapsed later on 9/11.

“It was not within United’s range of apprehension that terrorists would slip through” the screening checkpoint, fly to Logan Airport in Boston, “proceed through another air carrier’s security screening and board that air carrier’s flight, hijack that flight and crash it into 1 World Trade Center, let alone that 1 World Trade Center would therefore collapse and cause Tower 7 to collapse,” the judge wrote in rejecting the claim in World Trade Center Properties v. American Airlines, 08 Civ. 3722.

Still pending before the judge is a summary judgment motion by the aviation defendants on the grounds that 7WTC’s insurance recovery fully compensated the company for any possible tort recovery against the airlines.