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Sun, Sep 24, 2006

Former Pan Am Employees To Receive Surprise Payout

Fifteen Thousand Will Get Final Check

When Pan Am shut its doors in Dec 1991 after declaring bankruptcy 11 months earlier, many of its 15,000 employees were still owed for wages and unused leave.

Never expecting to see a dime, those same employees were surprised to learn the defunct airline intends to send them each one last check.

Law firm Loeb & Loeb negotiated a settlement in Pan Am's civil suit against the Libyan government for it's part in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103 which exploded over Lockerbie Scotland killing all 270 aboard.

In July, a federal bankruptcy judge authorized Pan Am to distribute approximately 43 percent of the settlement money among eligible former employees. In what is likely to be its final act, Pan Am will pay each ex-employee on average 5 - 6 percent of what they were owed when the company folded.

Walter Curchack of Loeb & Loeb told the Associated Press, "This is about as final as it can get." He says Pan Am wants to acknowledge it's former employees whom they describe as the "unrecognized victims" of a troubled industry -- people who dedicated themselves to an employer then were left out.

"This case has been literally, for the last 10 years, a sort of a matter of honor to many of the people involved in it," Curchack said. "It's a vindication in that there's some resolution for Pan Am and some of its employees, who felt they were personally attacked by the bombing of Flight 103."

The case has dragged so many years because Pan Am's civil suit couldn't go forward until a criminal case concluded -- that took almost a decade.

In that case, two Libyan agents were prosecuted under Scottish law at the Hague. One was acquitted, but Abdel Basset Ali alMegrahi was convicted of murder in 2001. As the appeals process has run its course, Pan Am and its insurers began settlement talks with the Libyan government. Pan Am will have about $31 million from the settlement to distribute to its former employees after deducting fees and a portion going to its insurers.

Many of Pan Am's ex-workers remain loyal to the company even today. They speak with pride of their former employer -- some hold reunions and collect memorabilia.

It's good to know their loyalty isn't misplaced.

FMI: www.panam.org

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