U.S. court revives 9/11 victims’ case against Saudi Arabia

A view over New York City and the 'Tribute In Light' marking the twelfth anniversary of the terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2013 in New York City. Credit: Getty Images
A view over New York City and the ‘Tribute In Light’ marking the twelfth anniversary of the terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2013 in New York City. Credit: Getty Images

A U.S. appeals court on Thursday revived claims by families of victims of the September 11, 2001, attacks who alleged that Saudi Arabia provided material support to al Qaeda.

Reversing a lower court ruling, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York said “the interests of justice” justified reviving the claims, in light of a 2011 decision that allowed similar claims to proceed against Afghanistan.

Circuit Judge Chester Straub wrote for a three-judge panel that it would be “especially anomalous” to treat both sets of plaintiffs differently. He returned the case to U.S. District Judge George Daniels in Manhattan for further proceedings.

The litigation had been brought on behalf of families of the nearly 3,000 people killed in the September 11 attacks.

Michael Kellogg, a partner at Kellogg, Huber, Hansen, Todd, Evans & Figel representing Saudi Arabia, said the country will “seek further review of this erroneous decision,” which he said was “contrary” to settled law.

“It is extremely unfortunate and burdensome that a sovereign nation and ally of the United States will continue to have to litigate this matter more than 10 years after it was filed,” he said in a statement.

Stephen Cozen, a partner at Cozen O’Connor representing the families, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The litigation began in 2002. Families of September 11 victims had alleged that Saudi Arabia and a government-affiliated charity knowingly provided funding and other material support to al Qaeda that helped it carry out the attacks.

Scope of sovereign immunity

U.S. District Judge Richard Casey in Manhattan dismissed the claims in 2005, saying Saudi Arabia’s alleged wrongful activity constituted a “discretionary function” entitling it to immunity under the federal Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act.

A 2nd Circuit panel upheld that ruling on different grounds in 2008, but that panel’s interpretation of sovereign immunity law was overruled by a different panel in the Afghanistan case.

The families in the Saudi Arabia case then asked U.S. District Judge George Daniels, who took over their case following Casey’s death in 2007, to vacate the 2005 ruling.

But Daniels refused, saying at a March 2012 hearing that it was “pure speculation” to suggest the results were inconsistent “given the fact that there are different defendants with different sets of allegations regarding their activities.”

Writing for the 2nd Circuit, however, Straub said the new law announced in the Afghanistan case was an “extraordinary” circumstance to justify reviving the Saudi Arabia case.

“The procedural history of this case produced inconsistent results between two sets of plaintiffs suing for damages based on the same incident,” Straub wrote. “It also allowed the district court’s application of the discretionary function limitation to go unreviewed.”

Thursday’s decision was joined by Circuit Judges Jose Cabranes and Ralph Winter. Cabranes was also on the 2008 panel that upheld the dismissal of the Saudi Arabia case, and the 2011 panel that reinstated the Afghanistan case.

 



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

US military tried, but failed to rescue journalist…

The U.S. military earlier this year tried to rescue journalist James Foley and other American hostages held in Syria ,but failed to find the captives.

National

Fate of captured beluga whales in hands of…

A Georgia aquarium went to court on Wednesday seeking federal permission to bring 18 captured beluga whales to the United States from Russia.

Local

After Eric Garner death, religious leaders meet to…

Interfaith leaders convened with city officials to discuss what the community can do to help dial down heightened tensions after Eric Garner's death.

Local

'Suspicious' Hamilton Heights fire caused by power strip:…

An extension cord overload caused the deadly fire in Hamilton Heights late Monday that killed a 15-year-old girl and injured at least 12 others.

Television

'So You Think You Can Dance' recap: Season…

And then there were six. It was a big night on stage as the Top 6 got to dance with each other, All-star partners and perform a solo routine.

Television

'Doctor Who' personality profile: the 4 Doctors

When the time comes for a new Doctor, there's always some anxiety over the big question: Who will he be? The series owes its longevity…

Television

Billy Crystal to commemorate late actor Robin Williams…

  Comedian Billy Crystal will pay tribute to late actor Robin Williams at television's Primetime Emmy Awards on Aug. 25, the show's organizers said on…

Going Out

Things to do this week in NYC, Aug.…

GAMES Hudson Common Open Aug. 21, 7 p.m. Hudson Common 356 W. 58 St. Free, www.hudsoncommonnyc.com The U.S. Open begins on Monday, but most of…

NFL

Giants expected to work Corey Washington into first-team…

The day of reckoning for the Giants' fringe players will fall upon them Friday night against the Jets.

NFL

Jalen Saunders still unsure what caused car accident…

Jets rookie wide receiver Jalen Saunders spoke to the media Wednesday for the first time since his car accident, but he didn't say a whole lot.

NFL

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL…

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL defense (DEF)

NFL

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL…

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL quarterbacks (QB)

Sex

Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…

Wellbeing

Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…

Wellbeing

Metabolic syndrome could have a sugar link

Scientists in St. Louis may have found another culprit in metabolic syndrome, which can lead to heart disease and type 2 diabetes.  Uric acid is…

Wellbeing

Another way stress hurts your unborn baby

Mothers know to try staying calm during pregnancy, as stress has been linked to behavioral and developmental problems for their babies. But now, a new…