NEW YORK CITY-This past Tuesday was the date originally set for the start of the long-awaited World Trade Center terrorism insurance trial. But that date has come and gone with lawyers for both sides locked in debate over how to proceed–and both sides pointing fingers at the other for gumming up the process.

Papers obtained by reveal that attorneys for World Trade Center master leaseholder Larry Silverstein filed for an “expedited appeal” on Oct. 30. That appeal was based on the earlier court rulingin favor of the so-called “one-occurrence” claim by various WTC insurers. That ruling came from Federal District Judge John Martin. It has been Silverstein’s claim that the Sept. 11, 2001 destruction of the World Trade Center was actually two separate events, a claim that, if ultimately accepted by the courts, would double his insurance check–from roughly $3.5 billion to $7 billion.

But attorneys for Swiss Re and other Silverstein insurers last week filed their opposition to the appeal, based on a number of issues. Not the least of these issues is that the original ruling focused on three insurers who, according to Swiss Re law firm Simpson Thatcher & Bartlett, “collectively account for just 3% of the total program.” In its argument, Simpson Thatcher argues that “allowing a piecemeal appeal . . . would prejudice all non-moving insurers–which comprise [the bulk] of Silverstein’s coverage.”

Swiss Re’s filing last week also points out that, since any rebuilding is years away, Silverstein and the other insureds will suffer no hardship in the absence of an immediate appellate review.”

The carriers also contend that, despite Silverstein’s claim “that an insurance form created by Travelers governed the entire excess insurance program,” that was in fact an unsigned form and that “on Sept. 11 there was no policy in place between Silverstein and any other insurer.” Given these factors–and others stated in the paper, Swiss Re attorneys argued that the other insurers be included in the appeals process or that the appeal be dropped.

Not surprisingly, Silverstein spokespeople are taking issue with those positions. In a prepared statement, representatives of Silverstein’s camp stated that Judge Martin himself believed these bones of contention cried for appeal. They quoted him as saying that there was “a substantial ground for difference of opinion and that an immediate appeal . . . may advance the termination of litigation.

“For Swiss Re to now argue that those appeals should not go forward just shows that Swiss Re is concerned that the Second Circuit will reverse Judge Martin’s rulings,” the statement continued. “It also shows the hollowness of Swiss Re’s claim that it is ‘dedicated to participating in the recovery and rebuilding of New York.’ In fact, Swiss Re is dedicated to putting off paying its obligations for as long as possible.”

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