Federal District Court Judge Alvin Hellerstein ruled each side would have the same number of hours to present its case, The New York Times reported Wednesday.
The family of Mark Bavis, a passenger on the second plane that struck the World Trade Center, filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against United Airlines and others. Their case is the last wrongful-death action pending of the more than 90 filed. Other families did not go to court and received payments through a victims' compensation fund.
"The time is going to be expressed not in days, but in minutes," Hellerstein said.
Each side's clock will run whenever its lawyer rises to question or cross-examine a witness, or to argue before the jury, the judge ruled.
Hellerstein said the trial, the only one arising from the attacks, will start later this year and last a month.
Donald Migliori, a lawyer for the Bavises, said restricting the trial to one month and dividing the time equally was ambitious for such a case of such magnitude, and especially for his client, the plaintiff, who bears the burden of proof, the Times said.
The lawsuit contends the hijackers could board United Airlines Flight 175 in Boston because of negligence by United and other defendants.
"The person that is affected the most is my client," said Migliori, estimating each side would have 50-60 hours. "We're talking about millions of pages of documents. We're talking about distilling one of the most important stories in American history."
A lawyer for United said dividing the trial time equally between the plaintiff and the defendants "would be unfair" because separate defendants may make different arguments.