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Both Sides Score Points as Twin Towers Trial Winds Up Fifth Week

BestWire (Best Week’s News Service) - March 11, 2004

By David Pilla
Ralph Tortorella III was quoted extensively regarding the current status and complexity of the World Trade Center insurance case. The following quote by Tortorella was included: “Ralph Tortorella, a senior partner with the catastrophic industry practice group of the New York law firm Ropers Majeski Kohn & Bentley, said the subject of the trial isn't an insurance issue per se, but rather an attempt to sort out who agreed to what as the coverage was lined up for the World Trade Center lease. "There is a long line of cases involving adjudicating what was agreed to prior to an event, and how those agreements are interpreted afterward," he said. "This case is different only in the level of complexity--involving multiple layers of financing and coverage." Tortorella, whose firm isn't involved with the World Trade Center litigation, said it isn't unusual in a complex insurance transaction to have details of the coverage unsettled after the insurers are bound. "Terms might not always be set until after the policy is agreed upon," he said. "This case is going to come down to who is most believable regarding what was agreed to." It isn't likely that any of the information coming out in the trial about how the World Trade Center coverage was handled would change commercial insurance business practices in any fundamental way, said Tortorella. "Carriers and insureds will want to settle the terms of a policy as soon as possible," he said. "But the World Trade Center coverage is not a traditional scenario. I'm not sure any changes in industry practices are ultimately necessary." In terms of the World Trade Center case, where the litigants are debating both what was agreed to before Sept. 11 and what was discussed after the event, Tortorella said the evidence of pre-Sept. 11 actions ultimately should weigh more heavily in determining who agreed to what.”