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L.A. Is Not Liable in Killing of Two at LAX

Times Staff Writer

The city of Los Angeles is not liable for damages in the shooting deaths of two people during an attack at an El-Al Israel Airlines ticket counter at Los Angeles International Airport, a federal judge has ruled.

Victoria Hen, 25, an El Al employee from Chatsworth, and Yaakov Aminov, 46, a diamond broker from North Hollywood, were killed when Egyptian-born Hesham Mohamed Hadayet, 41, opened fire on a line of passengers checking in for a flight to Israel on July 4, 2002.

Hadayet was slain, in turn, by an El Al air marshal.

The victims’ families sued Hadayet’s estate and the city of Los Angeles, which operates LAX, for $87.5 million.

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They accused the city of failing to provide adequate security at the Tom Bradley International Terminal, where Hadayet opened fire with a .45-caliber handgun. Two other people were wounded in the attack.

On Monday, U.S. District Judge Alicemarie Stotler dismissed the lawsuits, writing that the families had failed to identify a state law making the city liable for damages.

Furthermore, she said, California law provides immunity to public agencies for failure to provide adequate police protection.

Richard I. Fine, a Beverly Hills attorney who represents the families, said he planned to appeal the ruling.

The judge “refused to deal with the facts that we laid out before her” and ignored a recent state Supreme Court ruling that, Fine said, supports his clients’ right to sue.

The dismissal does not apply to the families’ claims against Hadayet’s estate. Even if the families win a judgment against the estate, however, they may not obtain much compensation.

Hadayet, who operated a limousine service in Orange County, was experiencing serious financial losses at the time of the shooting. An FBI report described him as seriously depressed.

Although he left no note or explanation, the FBI said Hadayet had told friends and associates that all Arabs were obliged to fight against Israel, even if it meant killing innocent civilians. The FBI concluded that he acted alone.

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