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Federal judge dismisses motion to reinstate Saudi Arabia as 9/11 defendant

A judge for the US District Court for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) [official website] on Thursday dismissed a motion to reinstate Saudi Arabia as a defendant in the civil compensation lawsuit by victims and commercial insurers against the perpetrators of the 9/11 terrorist attacks [JURIST backgrounder]. Judge George Daniels found no sufficient basis to grant the plaintiffs' motion [Reuters report], noting that such a motion was already presented to SDNY and rejected in 2005 by Judge Richard Conway Casey, who dismissed Saudi Arabia as a defendant [JURIST report] at that time. For grounds to reopen the case, the plaintiffs cited a November decision [opinion, PDF] of the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit [official website] that allowed a similar claim to proceed against Afghanistan, but Daniels stated that decision does not allow the claim against Saudi Arabia to be reinstated because the case was closed years ago [JURIST report] and the recent Second Circuit decision has no bearing. The plaintiffs nevertheless plan to appeal the dismissal. Lawyers for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia noted the claim has already lost on appeal of the 2005 rejection, and the US Supreme Court at that time reviewed but declined to hear the case. The plaintiffs originally sued over 200 entities and governments–about 100 are still listed as defendants, and active litigation concerns less than 10.

The claim against Saudi Arabia was dismissed [JURIST report] in 2008 by the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit because there was insufficient evidence that the Kingdom's princes had actual knowledge that their money was going to be used in the 9/11 attacks. Even after 10 years, cases brought by victims of the 9/11 terrorist attack against other governmental entities did not come to an end. In December, Iran denied the allegations [JURIST report] that it was actively involved in the terrorist attack after a default judgment [text, PDF; findings of facts and conclusions, PDF] in Havlish v. Bin Laden [case materials]. In June Judge Daniels dismissed 49 other terrorism lawsuits [JURIST report] based on lack of evidence.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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