9/11 Terrorist Attacks Lawsuit
In September 2016, Congress blocked Obama’s veto to approve the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA)—an historic move that allows victims of terrorist acts that occurred on U.S. soil to sue the foreign governments responsible. The law upturns decades of foreign sovereign immunity policy.
Opponents of the bill argue that JASTA makes the U.S. vulnerable to foreign retaliation and litigation. However, with Saudi Arabia as the main target for 9/11 litigation (as 15 of the 19 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia), concerns are also financially driven. Companies like General Electric and Chevron opposed the bill, fearing the security of their assets abroad, and Saudi Arabia made empty threats that they would pull their U.S. assets should JASTA pass.
“If the Saudis did nothing wrong, they should not fear this legislation.”
JASTA supporters look past economic and foreign relations, instead emphasizing that opening the courts of justice to victims is most important. Senator Charles Schumer (D – NY) said, “If the Saudis did nothing wrong, they should not fear this legislation.”
U.S. Government Established Compensation Funds to Minimize Lawsuits
Immediately after 9/11, the U.S. Government established the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, awarding $7 billion to victims and their families. In 2010, it was reopened as the Zadroga Act to support victims who suffered health complications after the first fund was closed.
These funds were unique; victims of other terrorist attacks like the Oklahoma City Bombing did not receive compensation from the government. The unprecedented move though was not entirely selfless. In order to receive these payments, victims had to agree not to sue airlines for the attack—thus helping to keep the airline industry afloat at a crucial time.
Airlines Paid Hundreds of Millions in 9/11 Lawsuits
Though the Victim Compensation Fund minimized 9/11 litigation against the airlines, it didn’t eliminate lawsuits altogether. Some families chose to file individual complaints. Nearly 100 lawsuits were filed on behalf of deceased and injured victims.
Property developer Larry Silverstein received one of the largest settlements after the disaster: $4.1 billion from property insurers. Though he tried to follow this by suing the airline companies, claiming that the money would be used to build the new World Trade Center, this was rejected in court.
Cantor Fitzgerald was able to hold airlines accountable for negligence though. In 2013, the financial services firm received a $135 million settlement from American Airlines for business and property damages. Cantor Fitzgerald, who occupied the top floors of One World Trade Center, lost 658 of their 960 Manhattan employees in the disaster. (For more on 9/11’s impact on businesses, refer to ClassAction.com’s infographic.)
Victims Were Subjected to High Legal Fees in Previous Settlements
Just because victims were awarded millions of dollars in settlements, doesn’t mean that they saw all of that money. Fee mismanagement was a common problem in 9/11 settlements.
The $657.5 million settlement awarded to emergency workers for the City of New York’s inadequate disaster preparation was sadly shadowed by legal disputes, ultimately at the cost of the suffering first responders. The two firms that represented the 10,000 workers—Worby Groner Edelman and Napoli Bern Ripk—battled over legal expenses. The firms ultimately had to account for $6.1 million of their legal fees in a lawsuit filed by 700 of the original plaintiffs.
“We want this to be over, but we want a fair settlement.”
Napoli has also been under fire for lower-than-expected settlements for 9/11 cancer victims. Ernest Vallebuona, who was diagnosed with lymphoma from his time working at Ground Zero, watched as his settlement offer of $313,200 to $382,000 was reduced by roughly $100,000 in legal fees. “We want this to be over, but we want a fair settlement,” he told the New York Times.
9/11 Widow Files First Lawsuit Against Saudi Arabia
Now that JASTA allows victims to sue Saudi Arabia, 9/11 litigation isn’t expected to end anytime soon. Stephanie DeSimone, a 9/11 widow, was the first to file a lawsuit against Saudi Arabia. She was two months pregnant when she lost her husband in the 9/11 attacks.
The lawsuit claims that the Kingdom was aware of al Qaeda’s plans and that without their support, the terrorist group would have not have been able to execute the September 11th attacks. It references Saudi government agents Omar Ahmad Mustafa Al-Baioomi and Osama Yousef Basnan who allegedly helped relocate two of the hijackers to San Diego. The lawsuit also details incidents of Saudi government officials funneling money from Saudi embassy accounts to charities that supported al Qaeda members.
The lawsuit seeks an undisclosed amount in damages for the “severe and permanent personal injuries” she and her daughter have suffered because of the attacks.
The first lawsuit filed against Saudi Arabia alleges the following:
- Saudi Arabia willingly provided material support to al Qaeda for more than a decade leading up to September 11, 2001.
- Saudi Arabia was aware of al Qaeda’s intent to use their support to conduct terrorist attacks against the United States.
- Without Saudi Arabia’s support, al Qaeda would have not possessed the ability to conceive, plan, and execute the September 11th attacks.
If you were harmed financially or physically by the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, Saudi Arabia may be partially to blame, and you may be entitled to compensation. Eligible parties may have filed 9/11-related lawsuits in the past—this does NOT disqualify you. These parties might include:
- Business owners in Lower Manhattan/the Financial District
- Building owners in Lower Manhattan/the Financial District
- First responders (police, firefighters, etc.) on 9/11
- Spouses and family members of 9/11 victims
- Anyone else who suffered physical or financial injury from the 9/11 attack
What Can I Recover from a Lawsuit?
A lawsuit against Saudi Arabia for the 9/11 terrorist attacks can result in compensation for:
- Property damage
- Loss of business/wages
- Medical bills
- Pain and suffering
- Funeral expenses
- Punitive damages
- Attorney fees
Contact Us for a Free Case Review
ClassAction.com is watching JASTA closely. With a team of 300+ attorneys and more than $2 billion recovered for our clients, our team has the experience and resources to tackle complex litigation like this. If you suffered personal or financial harm because of the terrorist attacks on 9/11, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation case review.