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

Rock Creek family inspiration for new boxing event

Rock Creek will host some of the best provincial boxers at Rumble in Rock Creek

Fruitvale man identified in fatal zipline accident in Thailand

Spencer Donaldson, 25, was from Fruitvale, B.C., the city’s mayor has confirmed

Fruitvale man, 25, dies after falling from zipline in Thailand, reports say

Bangkok Post says man fell from Flight of the Gibbon zipline in Chiang Mai

VIDEO: Driver in bizarre hit-and-run at B.C. car dealership turns herself in

Police believe alcohol was a factor in incident causing estimated $15,000 in damages

B.C., Ottawa talk 50/50 split on abandoned bus-route service

B.C. has paid $2 million on a bus service for the northern part of the province

‘B.C. cannot wait for action’: Top doctor urges province to decriminalize illicit drugs

Dr. Bonnie Henry says current approach in ‘war on drugs’ has criminalized and stigmatized drug users

B.C. woman, 76, challenges alcohol-screening laws after failing to give breath sample

Norma McLeod was unable to provide a sample because of her medical conditions

New report on 2017 wildfires calls for better coordination with B.C. First Nations

Tsilhqot’in National Government documents 2017 disaster and lists 33 calls to action

B.C. youth coach banned amid sexual harassment, bullying scandal: Water Polo Canada

Justin Mitchell can’t take part in Water Polo Canada events or clubs

Wilson-Raybould: Feds want to just ‘manage the problem’ of Indigenous Peoples

Former federal justice minister speaks at First Nations Justice Council meeting in B.C.

Boating incident claims life on East Kootenay lake

A young man has died after a canoe overturned in Moyie Lake early Tuesday morning

Female real estate agents warned of suspicious man in Metro Vancouver

The man requests to see homes alone with the female agent, police say

Most Read