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U.S. Appeals Court Allows Citizens to Sue Saudi Arabia for 9/11
In a landmark decision, a federal court overturned a previous court decision that had banned private citizens from suing Saudi Arabia directly for damages incurred during the 9/11 terrorist attack.
A previous federal court ruling had denied any lawsuits against the kingdom in a 2002 ruling that said the kingdom had sovereign immunity.
The new ruling, made by a three-judge panel from the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, overturned that ruling saying that lawsuits against Saudi Arabia were in the “interest of justice” due to the fact that much of the funding for the hijackers (the majority of whom were from Saudi Arabia) came from the Saudi Arabia.
The new ruling means that families who lost loved ones in the September 11, 2001 attack on New York’s World Trade Center and the Pentagon, as well as those who insured businesses that were destroyed in the attack, will be able to sue Saudi Arabia directly for monetary damages.
"I'm ecstatic.... For 12 years we've been fighting to expose the people who financed those [killers]," said William Doyle. Doyle’s son, Joseph Doyle was just 25 when he was killed in the North Tower of the World Trade Center while working for Cantor-Fitzgerald.
The original lawsuit, filed ten years ago by Cozen O’Conner (a firm out of Philadelphia) accused members of the Saudi government as well as the royal family of serving on charities that bankrolled Al Qaeda operations. The suit alleges that these government officials and royals knew the money from these “charities” would be used for terrorism.
"We conclude that the circumstances of this case are extraordinary," the judges said in the new ruling. The judges further concluded that the lower court judge who made the original ruling “rested on an error of law” when he originally disallowed law suits against the kingdom.
The lawyer for the plaintiffs, Jerry S. Goldman, commented, "This is a big step forward in the process of obtaining fair justice for the victims of this tragedy.” Goldman added that the decision was “soundly grounded and restores this case to the proper procedural posture."
Related article: House Reps Press to Release Report Linking Saudis to 9/11 http://www.clarionproject.org/print/news/us-appeals-court-allows-citizens-sue-saudi-arabia-911