Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) Becomes Law
On Wednesday September 28, after 15 years of relentless advocacy and perseverance, the September 11th Families have obtained a major victory when the United States Senate and the House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to override the President's veto of JASTA. JASTA, the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, allows families of terror attacks on U.S. soil, including the Sept. 11 victims, to pursue claims against Nation States who sponsored the attack. With respect to the 9-11 families, it will allow them to amend lawsuits already underway - or file new suits - to directly sue Saudi Arabia.
The Path to JASTA
JASTA was written and sponsored by Senators Chuck Schumer and John Cornyn. It was initially introduced in the Senate in 2014, where it passed by unanimous consent in December 2014 but time ran out that year and the House did not have time tovote on it.
In 2015, Kreindler & Kreindler renewed efforts to get JASTA passed and on September 16, 2015 Senator Cornyn reintroduced the bill in the Senate. On May 17, 2016, after significant efforts by the 9-11 families, the Senate again unanimously passed JASTA. Specific hold-outs included Senator Lindsey Graham who eventually offered changes to the bill's language and voted to approve the bill.
Then on September 9th, two days before the 15th anniversary of 9-11, and after significant contacts with and pressure on the House leadership, the 9-11 families watched as the House of Representatives also voted unanimously to pass JASTA.
However, on September 23, 2016, President Obama, as he had threatened to do all along, and much to the dismay of the families, vetoed JASTA. Undeterred, the 9-11 families again rose to the occasion. In a literal battle with the heavily-funded and greatly out numbering Saudi lobby; in the halls of Congress and on the phone to hundreds of Representatives and Senators and after thousands of emails, the 9-11 families finally prevailed and JASTA was overridden on September 28, 2016 by an overwhelming majority of both houses of Congress. JASTA had become the law of the land.
The Families doggedly and relentlessly advocated for the drafting of this law.
JASTA into the Future
The passage of JASTA does not mean that the battle is won. It is just beginning. Many in Congress want to amend the law which could have the effect of gutting the key provisions of JASTA. Kreindler & Kreindler and the 9-11 families will continue the fight to preserve the families' rights to pursue justice in our courts.
Beyond that initial and critical concern, there are many other issues that will be addressed in the months and years to come. Aside from ultimately proving the liability of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, there are legal issues concerning which of the different groups of victims will have claims that are recognized in court and against which defendants. It is unclear whether passengers on the planes, victims in the Towers and first responders who were killed on 9/11 will be treated the same as first responders, local residents, and others who were later diagnosed with 9/11 related illnesses and injuries. The court may make distinctions based on location and time spent in the disaster zone.
Kreindler & Kreindler, however, will file suit against Saudi Arabia on behalf of all injured persons and will seek to prove that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia should be held responsible for aiding, abetting and sponsoring the attacks and should be made to pay for all the injuries that flowed from its conduct.
Kreindler & Kreindler has unsurpassed experience in bringing terror cases. We have represented victims of the 1986 Karachi Pakistan Pan Am Flight 73 hijacking and terror attack; the 1986 Berlin Germany La Belle Discotheque bombing terror attack; the 2008 Mumbai, India terror attacks and others. In 1996, we successfully sued Libya for the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 and collected $2.7 billion for the 270 victims of that terror attack.
Kreindler filed suit against the 9/11 terrorists and other organizations in 2002, more than 14 years ago and have been litigating that case relentlessly since then. We led the fight to get JASTA passed in order to bring Saudi Arabia into that lawsuit.
Kreindler & Kreindler is honored to have played a role in supporting the September 11th Families in their pursuit of JASTA. We will continue to support the September 11th Families in their pursuit of justice.