The people who lost loved ones during the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks finally have the chance to seek justice from Saudi Arabia one decade after their initial attempt was denied by a federal judge.
Eight years ago, U.S. District Judge in Manhattan Richard Casey ruled that Saudi Arabia was immune from suit after families and insurers began litigation in 2002, the New York Daily News reported. That ruling was overturned Thursday, with the appellate panel citing another case in which suits went forward against Afghanistan.
William Doyle’s 25-year-old son Joseph was killed in the World Trade Center. He has been fighting for years to press charges against Saudi Arabia and a government-affiliated charity, claiming they provided Al Quada with funds and support for the terrorist attacks that killed 3,000 people.
“I’m ecstatic, because we have a lot of information and evidence,” Doyle told the News. “I think we’re finally seeing that light at the end of the tunnel. It’s been 12 years that I’ve been fighting this battle. I will not give up this fight.”
The damages could reach tens of billions of dollars, including both personal damages and the brunt that insurers had to bear due to damage to buildings and business. Stephen Cozen, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said his clients are relieved that they will finally have their voices heard.
“This opinion is eminently correct and will give 9/11 victims their day in court,” Cozen said. “The parties will start over, and we are very, very satisfied that we will meet any defenses, both legal and factual, that are raised.”
The appeals court ruled that the circumstances of this case are “extraordinary,” overturning the lower court’s ruling that Saudi Arabia is subject to immunity. The case against Afghanistan justified the reverse ruling, since the case brought by two sets of plaintiffs had yielded “inconsistent results.”
Michael Kellogg, a partner at the law firm that is representing Saudi Arabia, said the country will “seek further review of this erroneous decision,” Reuters reported.
“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.