Mark Bavis was killed on the second plane to hit the World Trade Center on 9/11. His family's wrongful death claim against United Airlines and other defendants is the last pending lawsuit regarding the attacks.
Unlike other victims' families, who either entered a compensation fund created by Congress or settled cases out of court, the family waited 9 years to sue United, the Massachusetts Port Authority and an airline security company, who they claim all showed negligence in allowing the terrorists to board the plane in Boston.
And what was anticipated to be a long, drawn-out process has now been given a definitive end-date. Federal Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein, who is presiding over the case, made the rare decision to put a month long limit on the trial in order to expedite the judgement.
"The time is going to be expressed not in days, but in minutes,” Judge Hellerstein has said in court. Each side’s clock will start ticking whenever its lawyer rises to question or cross-examine a witness, or to argue before the jury — “everything the party wishes to do from openings through summations,” he said.
Judge Hellerstein has said the trial, the only one stemming from the terror attacks, will last a month.
The judge has made it clear that he is seeking to avoid the kind of trial that rolls on interminably as the details, minutiae and technical arguments pile up, and wants to keep the jury focused and interested. “You know that once the jury gets bored with your presentation,” he has told the parties, “you’ve lost significant power of persuasion.”
The unusual move by Hellerstein has frustrated both the defendants and the Bavis's, who will get an exact 50/50 share of the time in court.
Defendants complained that a 50/50 split leaves the multiple defendants inadequate time to make their case, as each will be making separate arguments.
Hellerstein has resided over many of the 95 other lawsuits brought to court from victims' families. "Professionally, I think it's going to be extraordinary," he said of the Bavis's case to the Associated Press, adding that he thinks the case will be a lesson to future law students.
Mark Bavis was a professional hockey scout for the Los Angeles Kings who grew up in the Roslindale section of Boston. His name is on the 9/11 memorial in the Boston Public Garden. His family started the Mark Bavis Leadership Foundation which awards scholarships to promising high school students.