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

Rossland council agrees to finish skateboard park

Will cost taxpayers about $30,000 to complete project

Core funding to boost spending on tourism services for Rossland

Resort Municipalities grants will pay for a public washroom, better signage, and shuttle services

Passenger counts still rising at West Kootenay Regional Airport

Reliability rates also on rise in second quarter.

Third cannabis store in Greater Trail opens next week

The City of Trail has had six applications from non-medical pot retailers to date

Last stop: The inside story of Queen City Shuttle and Charters’ closure

Former employees open up about the Nelson company’s final days

Rich the Vegan scoots across Canada for the animals

Rich Adams is riding his push scooter across Canada to bring awareness to the dog meat trade in Asia

A year later, ceremony commemorates victims of the Danforth shooting

It’s the one-year anniversary of when a man opened fire along the bustling street before shooting and killing himself

Japanese Canadians call on B.C. to go beyond mere apology for historic racism

The federal government apologized in 1988 for its racism against ‘enemy aliens’

B.C. VIEWS: NDP pushes ahead with Crown forest redistribution

This isn’t the time for a radical Indigenous rights agenda

Two dead in two-vehicle crash between Revelstoke and Golden

RCMP are investigating the cause of the crash

Ottawa fights planned class action against RCMP for bullying, intimidation

The current case is more general, applying to employees, including men, who worked for the RCMP

Alberta judge denies B.C.’s bid to block ‘Turn Off the Taps’ bill

He said the proper venue for the disagreement is Federal Court

Most Read