The 1988 terrorist attack on Pan American World Airways Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland killed 243 passengers, 16 crew members, and 11 people on the ground when a bomb exploded mid-flight. Still, there were many other lives affected by this heinous crime. Libyan terrorists were ultimately found to be responsible for the bombing and their government provided $1.5 billion in funds for the victims’ families. However, there is one group of victims that will not be getting any relief or compensation.
The Abbott group represents approximately 50 Pan Am pilots who were at or near the age of retirement when the attack took place and, according to many, resulted in the airline going bankrupt. Back then pilots had a unique retirement formula compared to other occupations. According to a federal mandate, most pilots had to cease flying by the age of 60, so when Pan Am went under, the Abbott Group pilots lost their jobs, pensions and had no way to return to the type of work for which they were trained.
With nothing to fall back on and no future to look forward to, the Abbott Group sought the help of The Foreign Claims Settlement Commission (FCSC), in hopes some of the Libyan victims’ funds would be distributed to them as well. It took more than a year of waiting before an answer was given – and it wasn’t the desired outcome.
Managing Partner of Washington based Kirstein & Young PLLC and plaintiff Attorney, Joanne Young told Liberty Nation:
In a ruling that flies in the face of positions taken by the U.S. Congress and U.S. Courts, the FCSC found there was insufficient evidence to conclude Lockerbie was the primary or proximate cause for Pan Am’s demise. Its position that Libya’s aviation terrorism at Lockerbie did not lead to the demise of Pan Am stands in stark contrast to the U.S. Congress appropriation of $5 billion to the U.S. airlines to avoid imminent bankruptcies following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, when they specifically cited the need to avoid another Lockerbie. It is also contrary to a finding by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit in 2001 which found that Pan Am “succumbed to two years of crushing financial pressures caused by the bombing” over Lockerbie in filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
As Liberty Nation reported, “three former Pan Am Executives testified that Lockerbie was part and parcel of the airline having to go out of business.”
The Abbott Group originally sought $46.5 million to pay for their lost pensions, medical insurance, and compensation for loss of livelihood. But they won’t be getting anything following the FCSC decision, even though there is reportedly still $500 million left of the Libyan funds. The pilots, said Young, won’t get a dime while the FCSC is able to hang on to 5% of the money for their “administrative expenses.”
As the FCSC is a governing body that answers to no one, their decision is final, and the Abbott Group may not appeal the decision. Young sums up the sad state of affairs:
“Unless Congress steps in, the Abbott Group’s pursuit of justice has ended with the decision of this rogue agency of our government still led by two Obama appointees who adopted the arguments of a state sponsor of terrorism.”
It is a tough pill to swallow for these former flying aces and as of this time, no brave member of Congress has stepped forward to try and change the outcome of the situation.
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