Posts Tagged ‘September 11’

Suing Saudis over 9/11

The plaintiffs don’t seem to have fully factored in the principle of foreign sovereign immunity, which leaves it to the democratically elected executive branch, rather than to the courts, to decide how to handle grievances against other nation’s governments. (Mark Hamblett, “Saudi Charity Dropped From Suit Over Sept. 11 Attacks”, New York Law Journal, Sept. 28). See Sept. 26 and Nov. 6, 2004.

9/11 fund may have been a mistake

Even Ken Feinberg, the man who ran it, acknowledges as much. Must-read column from Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby (“Why the 9/11 fund was a mistake”, Sept. 27). One remarkable passage among many:

“You would get situations like this,” Feinberg said. ” `Mr. Feinberg, I’m the brother of the victim. Don’t let my sister get a nickel. The victim hated his sister, trust me.’ Then the sister comes in. `Is my brother spreading rumors. . .? My [deceased] brother and I loved each other.’

“Or: `Mr. Feinberg, I’m the biological parent of my son who was killed. Don’t you dare give the fiancee any money. That marriage was never going to take place.’ Then the fiancee comes in. `We were going to be married on October 11th.’ And you go back to the biological parent. `They were going to be married October 11th. You threw a shower for them. You said you were gaining a daughter, not losing a son.’ `Yeah, but on Sept. 10, my son told me it was off.’ “

Update: blame it on Riyadh

Even though the 9/11 commission (debunking certain widely circulated stories to the contrary) concluded that the government of Saudi Arabia did not fund al-Qaeda, several institutional victims of the terrorist attacks, including Cantor Fitzgerald Securities and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, recently filed suit against a long list of foreign entities including the Saudi government and various financial institutions for their alleged role in the attacks (Larry Neumeister, “Port Authority to Join Suit Against Saudi Arabia Over 9/11 Attack”, AP/, Sept. 13). The U.S. government has been highly critical of the freelance use of private litigation to second-guess the state of U.S.-Saudi relations, which has in no way deterred colorful asbestos-tobacco zillionaire Ron Motley from setting up his own mini-CIA-cum-State-Department-for-profit toward that end (Jennifer Senior, “Intruders in the House of Saud, Part II: A Nation Unto Himself”, New York Times Magazine, Mar. 14)(see Jul. 11, 2003). And in the New York Observer, Nina Burleigh in February profiled attorney Brian Alexander of the prominent plaintiff’s air-crash firm of Kreindler & Kreindler, who had “already filed a suit — on behalf of the families of more than 1,000 9/11 families?against a list of foreign entities hundreds of pages long.” (“Air Disasters, Legal Fees And Justice for the Victims”, New York Observer, Feb. 23).

“Compensation battles inflict new wounds on 9/11 families”

“The million-dollar federal payments that Congress designed to help the nearly 3,000 families of people killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks have sparked feuds within hundreds of the families.” Stepfamilies, domestic partners, and surprise claimants asserting previously unsuspected overseas marital or blood relationships have all gotten into bitter disputes. Understatement alert: “When money is involved, there’s even more incentive to come forward,” says a NYC court official. (Martin Kasindorf, USA Today, Jan. 19). See Sept. 11.

Bin Laden’s gift to lawyers

“Say what you like about Osama bin Laden. He’s done wonders for the defamation bar,” says a British barrister. A group of wealthy Saudi businessmen are engaging in “libel tourism,” suing in British courts to silence American critics. British libel law, unburdened by the First Amendment, puts the burden on defendants to prove that their stories are true; the threat of libel suits often acts to deter journalistic inquiries, but now suits are being aimed at American publishers. The Wall Street Journal faces two lawsuits for a February 2002 report on Saudi support for terror that was reprinted in its European edition. (Michael Isikoff & Mark Hosenball, “Libel Tourism”, Newsweek Web, Oct. 22). (via Postrel)

“Grief does not justify greed”

A few more excerpts from Gregg Easterbrook’s devastating commentary of yesterday: “Now some 9/11 families are saying $1.6 million isn’t enough. Set aside whether they should be receiving anything from taxpayers, given the myriad other circumstances in which Americans die in various horrible events every bit as traumatic and devastating to their families, who receive nothing at all. Assume for the sake of argument that something about 9/11 justifies offering victims’ estates a very large special payment. Yet some 9/11 families are saying very large is not large enough. … If the families for whom $6.1 million is not enough persist in their avaricious desire to sue — and if the lawyers who would get shares of court awards, but get no shares of federal fund awards, persist in their ghoulish desire to encourage such suits–the country’s two largest airlines, and largest aircraft manufacturer, may fail. This will cause significant harm the United States. And it seems unlikely that the dying thoughts of the noble victims of 9/11 were, ‘I hope my survivors really screw the United States for money.'” (unnamed new Gregg Easterbrook weblog, The New Republic, Sept. 10). See also Apr. 1-2, 2002 (Roger Parloff); Nov. 21-22, 2001; John Lehmann, “Rush to file $uits”, New York Post, Sept. 11 (Lisa Beamer and other survivors suing airport screening equipment makers).

Motley’s Sept. 11 crusade

Profile of bigshot tort lawyer Ron (“U.S. foreign policy, c’est moi”) Motley, who after ultra-successful runs in asbestos and tobacco and a far less successful run against lead paint manufacturers has embarked on a crusade to sue various rich Saudi Arabians over Sept. 11 because they allegedly had paid off bin Laden over the years, whether from sympathy, fear or other motives. The State Department has repeatedly complained that the suit (with its demands for compulsory discovery of foreign nationals, etc.) threatens to upset the delicate management of U.S.-Saudi relations, but who (aside from the U.S. Constitution) says the executive branch should get to run foreign relations anyway? Quotes our editor (Tony Bartelme, “The King of Torts vs. al-Quaida [sic] Inc., Charleston Post & Courier, Jun. 22). Newsiest nugget to us: according to the article, Motley has hired full time to work on the case a well-connected Washington lawyer named Harry Huge; this is pretty rich once you consider something not spelled out in the article, which is that Huge served on most if not all of the arbitration panels that awarded the Ness Motley firm vast fortunes in the state tobacco litigation. What could be more ingenuous and conflict-of-interest-free than for Motley to turn around and give him a job?