Jury Awards $19 Million to Pay Pan Am Victim's WifeFrom News Services
Wednesday, April 19, 1995; Page A06
UNIONDALE, N.Y., APRIL 18 -- A federal jury has awarded $19 million to the widow of an executive killed in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.
The woman's attorney, Aaron Broder, said today he believes it is the largest airline-disaster award ever given to one person.
Faith Pescatore, 37, broke down and cried upon hearing the verdict Monday against now-defunct Pan Am and Alert Management Systems, a security company.
Pescatore's husband of 2 1/2 years, Michael, was one of 259 people killed aboard the Boeing 747. Eleven people on the ground also died.
Pescatore, 33, was a vice president for British Petroleum Chemicals of America and "destined to become a company star," Broder said.
"He started out a waiter and 14 years later was vice president of a multibillion-dollar company," the lawyer said.
Pan Am immediately asked the judge to set aside the verdict. The airline's lawyer, Edward Brady, had no comment today.
Faith Pescatore -- a physician's assistant who lives in the Cleveland area -- charged that Pan Am and its security firm were warned of a possible terrorist attack but took no extra precautions.
A bomb, hidden in a radio-cassette player and packed in a suitcase, was believed to have been put aboard the plane by Libyan terrorists. Arrest warrants have been issued for two suspects, but Libya has refused to turn them over.
In 1992, a federal jury ruled that the airline was at fault for repeatedly ignoring warnings that its baggage-security system was inadequate. The jury awarded three families a total of nearly $20 million in that lawsuit.
Separately, in Washington, the United States opened the door to a possible exception to United Nations sanctions so that Libyans might fly directly to Saudi Arabia for the annual pilgrimage to Mecca.
The State Department said it would "consider" a request for such flights to and from Libya if it were made to the appropriate U.N. sanctions committee in New York.
The United Nations imposed the ban on flights to and from Libya because Tripoli has refused to give up two of its citizens wanted in connection with the 1988 Pan Am 103 bombing.
"The U.S. does not seek to deny Libyan pilgrims the opportunity to fulfill their religious duties," said department spokeswoman Christine Shelly. "We fully respect their traditions and practice of Islam."
Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi said Monday that he was ready to fight if necessary to let Libyans fly directly to Saudi Arabia for the annual pilgrimage, known as the haj.
Shelly said the United States was not aware of any formal application for an exception to the ban on air travel that would let Libyan haj-goers fly directly to Saudi Arabia.
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