Kreindler Files 9/11 Terror Lawsuit Against Saudi Arabia

On March 20, 2017, Kreindler & Kreindler LLP filed suit against the Kingdom of Saudia Arabia on behalf of victims of 9/11.

To read or download the complaint, click Ashton-v-KSA-2017.pdf

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Fifteen years after 9/11, Congress unanimously passed the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA).  The law makes a very small, but important, change to the federal laws relating to terrorism and foreign sovereign immunity.  It ensures that the cases of the 9/11 families will be decided on their merits, rather than based upon a narrow interpretation of the Foreign Soverign Immunities Act.

Kreindler has stood with our clients for the past fifteen years in a tremendously challenging litigation to hold those responsible for 9/11 to account.  Kreindler partner Jim Kreindler is the Co-Chair for the wrongful death and personal injury cases on the Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee.  Kreindler partner Andrew Maloney serves as Liaison Counsel.  They have worked tirelessly with the other members of the Plaintiffs’ Committee and advocates in Washington D.C. to push for JASTA’s passage.

What is JASTA?

The Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act ("JASTA", S. 2040, 114th Cong. (2016)) removes the sovereign immunity of the nations who support terror attacks on U.S. soil.  JASTA amends the Anti-Terrorism Statute to permit claims against foreign nations.

What is the Anti-Terrorism Act (the "ATA")?

The ATA, 18 U.S.C. § 2333 provides that "[a]ny national of the United States injured in his or her person, property, or business by reason of an act of international terrorism, or his or her estate, survivors, or heirs, may sue therefor in any appropriate district court of the United States and shall recover threefold the damages he or she sustains and the cost of the suit, including attorney’s fees,"  The law is not clear who is within the scope of survivors, but there is support that the statute should be read broadly to include family members such as siblings or in certain cases parents or even step-children and step-parents in limited circumstances.  We believe that claims outside of the normal wrongful death beneficiaries may be subject to a successful challenge, but we are recommending that all immediate family members retain the firm and that we bring individual claims under the ATA against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as well as the wrongful death (WD) and survival claims.

What is the statute of limitation to sue Saudi Arabia?

The statute of limitation to sue Saudi Arabia is January 2, 2019 because Congress extended the ATA statute of limitations to that date. 18 U.S.C. § 2335; H.R. 4310, 112th Cong. §1251(c)(2013).

What is going on in the case against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA)?

Kreindler has filed a complaint against the KSA.  That case is based on the ATA and on other theories of liability.  The court has extended the deadline for the KSA to move to dismiss the complaint to June 1, 2017.  We expect the KSA to file a motion to dismiss.  We anticipate that the motion will ask the court to find that JASTA is an invalid law, either on constitutional or other reasons.  We also anticipate that the KSA will argue that it is not responsible for the individuals or entities who we allege supported al Qaeda based on an argument that any such support was outside the scope of these individuals’ authority as government employees, agents or alter egos.

How long will the case take against the KSA?

It is impossible to say.  The KSA will fight the case very hard.  We anticipate its lawyers will challenge JASTA on Constitutional grounds and will seek to dismiss the case alleging that there is not sufficient evidence that it bears responsibility for the 9/11 attacks.

What are the chances of success in the case against the KSA?

The case against the KSA is legally and factually complex.  Under the pre-JASTA law that provided the KSA immunity with very limited exceptions, the KSA has been successful in convincing the court to reject the claims. Moreover, the Justice Department has taken the KSA’s side in position papers that it sent to the court.  JASTA helps quite a bit, but we must convince the court that the KSA provided material support to al Qaeda and we face a well-funded and determined foe.

What are the prospects for settlement?

We have seen no indication that the KSA is interested in settling the case.  We would not recommend a settlement unless we were confident it was a fair and just settlement and reflected KSA’s rejecting terrorism.

Who is on the Kreindler team on the 9/11 case?

Kreindler has already devoted millions of dollars and many thousands of hours to the effort over the past fifteen years.  
Our effort is led by James Kreindler, jkreindler@kreindler.com, who serves as the court-appointed Co-Chair of the Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee and Andrew Maloney, amaloney@kreindler.com.