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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Thursday’s blackout likely caused by vandalism

Power was out for 10,000 customers from Quick to the Hazeltons for almost 11 hours

VIDEO: Witset cannabis shop officially opens

The store, located at the gas bar on Hwy 16, is open seven days a week, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Police investigate July 2 homicide in Houston

Man succumbed to injuries at Pearson Road residence

Tahltan fighter from Telkwa wins provincial award

Lando Ball recognized for his commitment to and accomplishments in karate and for community service

RCMP patrol of smokehouse sparks concerns by Wet’suwet’en hereditary leader

Hereditary Chief Woos says he is feeling uneasy after RCMP attended the smokehouse with rifles

QUIZ: A celebration of dogs

These are the dog days of summer. How much do you know about dogs?

Police ramp up efforts to get impaired drivers off B.C. roads this summer

July is dedicated to the Summer CounterAttack Impaired Driving Campaign

Migrant workers stage multi-city action for full status amid COVID-19 risks

‘COVID-19 has exacerbated an existing crisis’

Okanagan school drops ‘Rebels’ sports team name, citing links with U.S. Civil War

Name and formerly-used images “fly in the face” of the district’s human rights policy, says board chair

PHOTOS: B.C.’s top doc picks up personalized Fluevog shoes, tours mural exhibition

Murals of Gratitude exhibit includes at least one portrait of Henry alongside paintings of health-care workers

In troubled times: Independence Day in a land of confusion

Buffeted by invisible forces and just plain worn out, the United States of America celebrates its 244th birthday

Stop enforcing sex work laws during COVID-19, advocates say

There are provisions in Canada’s prostitution laws that make workers immune from prosecution, but not from arrest

Liberal party finished 2019 having spent $43 million, raised $42 million

All political parties had until midnight June 30 to submit their financial reports for last year

B.C. teacher loses licence after sexual relationships with two recently-graduated students

The teacher won’t be allowed to apply for a teaching certificate until 2035

Most Read