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)

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

Just Posted

A laboratory technician holds a dose of a COVID-19 novel coronavirus vaccine candidate that’s ready for trial on monkeys at the National Primate Research Center of Thailand. (Mladen Antonov - AFP)
Interior Health reports 66 new COVID-19 infections

570 cases are active; 18 in hospital

(File photo)
Okanagan-Shuswap real estate markets not slowing down

Residential sales in the Central, North Okanagan and Shuswap beat last year’s sales by 71 per cent

A crowd of approximately 6,500 packed into Stuart Park in downtown Kelowna to ring in 2018. (Contributed)
Downtown Kelowna New Year’s celebration cancelled

The popular New York New Year’s event has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic

(Google Maps)
UPDATE: COVID-19 case confirmed at Mar Jok, Rutland Senior Secondary

School District 23 said the individual is now self-isolating

Residents should run their taps until cold before using their water. (Black Press file photo)
Westside water quality advisory back on tap

Leak repair at Westshore Estates affecting some properties, again

UBCO Master of Social Work Graduate Alix Longland is reaching out to the local refugee community alongside the Family Resource Centre. (Contributed)
Trauma resources ready for North Okanagan refugees

Family Resource Centre working with UBCO social work grad to reach out to local refugees

Elkhart Gas Station, located on Highway 97C about 60 kilometres west of Peachland, opened in November 2020. (Google maps)
The Okanagan Connector now has a gas station

The highway previously ran for over 117 kilometres without a place to fuel up

The Hughes’ Grinch was stolen from their front yard Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2020. The Santa suit the Grinch is wearing is 50 years old and has sentimental value. It was once worn by April Hughes’ dad. (Hughes photo)
Grinch stolen from Penticton home is ‘irreplaceable’

The Hughes have had a Christmas display for 25 years on Grandy Avenue in Penticton

Midway RCMP’s Cpl. Phil Peters spoke at Greenwood’s city council meeting Monday, Nov. 23. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
B.C. Mountie builds fire to warm suspect with hypothermia prior to rescue

Cpl. Phil Peters said the civilian helped police track, apprehend and eventually rescue the suspect

Premier John Horgan leaves the podium following his first press conference of the year as he comments on various questions from the media in the Press Gallery at B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, January 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Revelstoke COVID-19 cluster linked to non-essential travel: Horgan

There have been 46 cases of COVID-19 in the community

Students at Lavington Elementary crammed a car full of non-perishables for those in the community facing food insecurity. Spearheaded by teacher January Peebles (left), the donations were picked up by Give LUCK founder Myrika Godard, who works to connect donors with donees in the North Okanagan. (Give LUCK photo)
Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s coronavirus situation at the legislature, Nov. 30, 2020. (B.C. government)
Hockey team brought COVID-19 back from Alberta, B.C. doctor says

Dr. Bonnie Henry pleads for out-of-province travel to stop

Most Read