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Sept. 11 widow sues United Airlines

By Phil Hirschkorn
CNN New York Bureau

NEW YORK (CNN) -- A widow whose husband was on board one of two hijacked jets that slammed into the World Trade Center September 11 filed suit Thursday against United Airlines, charging the carrier failed to provide adequate security.

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The woman, Ellen Mariani of Derry, New Hampshire, filed the lawsuit through her attorney in federal court in Manhattan.

Her husband, Louis Mariani, 58, was a passenger on United Flight 175, the second plane to hit the Trade Center, crashing into the South Tower around 9:03 a.m., killing all 65 people on board.

The husband and wife were taking separate flights from Boston to Los Angeles to attend the wedding of Ellen Mariani's daughter from a previous marriage.

Attorney Don Nolan said he believes the suit is the first against either United or American Airlines, which each lost two planes that day.

American Flight 11, also traveling from Boston to Los Angeles, crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center at 8:46 a.m.

American Flight 77, from Washington to Los Angeles, crashed into the Pentagon. United Flight 93, from Newark to San Francisco, crashed in Pennsylvania, and authorities believe it was headed to Washington before passengers fought for control of the jet.

Nolan said Mrs. Mariani decided to forgo money available from the federal victims compensation fund. Families applying for those benefits must agree not to sue the airlines for damages.

"She does not want the U.S. taxpayers to pay for her claim with the airline," Nolan said. "United Airlines was fully insured."

The suit alleges United "breached it duty of care for the safety and security of the passengers" aboard Flight 175.

"There was a lack of security," Nolan said.

Nolan has represented plaintiffs in other disasters, including US Air Flight 42, which crashed outside Pittsburgh in 1994; TWA Flight 800, which exploded off New York's Long Island in 1996; and last year's crash of Singapore Air Flight 006 in Taiwan.

He also is pursuing legal action against Airbus and American for the November 19 crash of an American Airlines jet in Queens, New York.

Nolan says he expects the plaintiffs to grow beyond Mrs. Mariani. "Hers is the first, but we've had dozens of people contact us," he said. Mariani declined to be interviewed.

Two families who lost loved ones in the September 11 attacks have filed suits against Osama bin Laden in the same federal court.



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