In this Sept. 8, 2011 photo, Carolyne Hynes sheds a tear with her daughter Olivia, during the 10th anniversary remembrance of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks at the Sherwood Isle Living Memorial in Westport, Conn.(Peter Casolino/Hearst Connecticut Media via AP)

U.S. court wrongly took money from 9/11 widow and daughter

The 7-0 decision ends a decade-long dispute between a probate court and Carolyne Hynes

A Connecticut probate court wrongly took control of nearly $1.3 million in Sept. 11 victim compensation funds earmarked for the young daughter of a World Trade Center attack victim by prohibiting her mother from spending any of the money on expenses related to the girl, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled Wednesday.

The 7-0 decision ends a dispute that began over a decade ago when a probate court judge ordered Carolyne Hynes, of Weston, to place the money for her daughter in a special account, saying the funds were the girl’s property and should be protected by the court for her to receive when she became an adult.

Hynes argued the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund allowed her to use the money as she saw fit for current and future expenses relating to her daughter, Olivia, who was born six months after her father, Thomas Hynes, died in the 2001 terrorist attack.

READ MORE: Edmonton woman quits Claire’s after refusing to pierce tearful seven-year-old’s ears

The opinion written by Chief Justice Richard Robinson overturned decisions by a trial court and the state Appellate Court in favour of the probate court and will give control of the money back to Hynes. Robinson wrote the victim fund awarded the money to Hynes with the intent that it would not become tied up in probate court proceedings.

“We conclude that our state statutes did not grant the Probate Court jurisdiction to monitor the plaintiff’s use of the fund award or to prohibit the plaintiff from using that award in the absence of that court’s approval,” Robinson wrote.

A message seeking comment was left for Hynes, who also received nearly $1.2 million for herself from the victim fund, which has awarded $4.8 billion to more than 20,000 relatives of Sept. 11 victims.

Hynes’ lawyer, Michael Kaelin, said Wednesday that he was only authorized to say Hynes was pleased with the ruling and grateful the Supreme Court decided to hear her case.

In a 2014 decision, the probate judge, Anthony DePanfilis, expressed concerns over Hynes’ use of the victim compensation funds. He wrote that she “co-mingled” the funds for her and her daughter in one account, bought a home for $884,000 and spent another $150,000 on renovations.

DePanfilis also said Hynes had spent $385,000 of her daughter’s money on dance, music, karate, tennis and other lessons for the girl, as well as for some costs of the girl’s medical insurance, a country club membership and household expenses.

“The sums before us establish that not only had the money been co-mingled, but that it was being spent at an alarming rate and for purposes, most of which are (Hynes’) own obligations,” the probate judge wrote.

READ MORE: Widow evicted from home on WFN land after husband dies

A message seeking comment was left for DePanfilis.

Kaelin, in court documents, said the probate judge’s concerns about Hynes’ handling of the money were unfounded.

Kenneth Feinberg, who oversaw awards from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, called the case “unique” and said he agreed with the state Supreme Court’s decision.

“Normally, probate courts give the widow discretion in spending funds for family members especially sons and daughters,” Feinberg said.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Kenney talks pipelines with Trudeau after election win, calls it cordial

Almost a year ago Kenney dismissed Trudeau as a dilettante and a lightweight

Nixon elected according to Global News

Nixon surges ahead in 15 ridings

Alberta’s Notley talks pipelines, energy on last day of election campaign

Noteley toured a pipe fabrication yard in Calgary, a key battleground in Tuesday’s election

Notley hopes for momentum shift as provincial election campaign winds down

Rachel Notley visited a Sikh temple in Calgary today before heading to Edmonton for a rally

‘Open for business:’ Jason Kenney’s UCP wins majority in Alberta election

The UCP was leading or elected in 63 of 87 seats Tuesday night

Undercover cops don’t need warrant to email, text suspected child lurers: court

High court decision came Thursday in the case of Sean Patrick Mills of Newfoundland

VIDEO: Trump tried to seize control of Mueller probe, report says

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s report revealed to a waiting nation Thursday

Alberta RCMP reminds Albertans how to be ‘egg-stra’ safe this Easter

Put away phone while driving, plan for a designated driver

B.C. awaits Kenney’s ‘turn off taps,’ threat; Quebec rejects Alberta pipelines

B.C. Premier John Horgan said he spoke with Kenney Wednesday and the tone was cordial

Federal government extends deadline to make Trans Mountain decision to June 18

The National Energy Board endorsed an expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline on Feb. 22

Precautionary evacuation for Red Deer, Alta., residents due to industrial fire

City officials are advising people to close windows and doors and to turn off air intakes into homes

Study links preschool screen time to behavioural and attention problems

The research looked at more than 2,400 families

Could a pharmacist’s consultation help more people get vaccinated?

Canadian study suggests giving pharmacists a monetary incentive to consult would cut influenza cases

Most Read