9/11 families to get day in court with actor James Woods as possible witness

BY Thomas Zambito
Wednesday, July 29th 2009

Actor James Woods may testify that he spotted the Al Qaeda terrorists on an August 2001 flight when the first wrongful-death trial from 9/11 kicks off in April.

Manhattan Federal Judge Alvin Hellerstein on Tuesday set April 12, 2010, for the start of a trial spurred by lawsuits filed by the families of victims who died aboard hijacked planes that crashed into the twin towers on 9/11.

Hellerstein gave the families' lawyer, Donald Migliori, until Friday to choose which case or cases will start in April.

Only three families are left of the 100 who decided to pursue legal action against the airlines and airport security companies rather than accept a settlement from the Sept. 11 Victim Compensation Fund.

The fund recipients divvied up $500 million in settlements.

Hellerstein said a jury a month later will hear the first of dozens of lawsuits filed by individuals who blame their respiratory illnesses on exposure to toxins released into the air when the towers fell.

Pending against the airlines are lawsuits filed by the family of flight attendant Sara Low, 28, and passenger Barbara Keating, 72, who were on American Airlines Flight 11, which crashed into 1 World Trade Center. Also remaining is a lawsuit filed by the family of hockey scout Mark Bavis, 31, who was on United Airlines Flight 175 when it hit the towers.

"This is a big day," Migliori said. "We have never trusted that we would ever get one [a trial date]."

Woods, who played former Mayor Rudy Giuliani in "Rudy: The Rudy Giuliani Story," gave a deposition several months ago in Providence, R.I., Migliori said.

Shortly after the attacks, Woods revealed he was on an August 2001 flight from Boston to Los Angeles when he became suspicious about several Middle Eastern men sitting next to him.

The men who Woods said looked like some of the 19 hijackers didn't order a drink or speak to a stewardess but appeared to be keeping a close tab on the crew.

"I think this plane is going to be hijacked," Woods reportedly told an attendant. "I know how serious it is to say this."