A U.S. Federal Judge hoped to see consolidation among lawsuits filed by victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks against Saudi Arabia that “largely allege the same facts” as the fallout from the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) continues.
According to the Associated Press, Magistrate Sarah Netburn presided over a hearing that brought together dozens of lawyers who have filed more than a dozen lawsuits since last fall. The latest was filed just hours before the hearing.
There are two sets of lawsuits enabled by Congress’ decisive passing of JASTA last year. The lawsuits reviewed by Justice Netburn represent thousands of family members of those who died during the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and others who were injured.
A separate lawsuit was brought on behalf of insurance companies that paid $212 million after the attacks. According to the AP, it seeks at least triple that in damages. Most of the suits seek unspecified damages.
Should Congress fail to repeal JASTA or act to stop these lawsuits before they move forward, lawyers representing Saudi Arabia will attempt to get these newest suits thrown out of courts in June.
Saudi leaders have praised the opportunity for a “reset” in relations with the United States with a new administration, but lawsuits resulting from the passage of JASTA threaten that reset with damages potentially in the billions of dollars.
Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir has been the face of Saudi opposition to JASTA, and has warned that once sovereign immunities are bypassed, it will open up litigation against the US from almost every country in the world.
The foreign minister told reporters in December that he had been “trying to persuade” US legislators to change the law.
“We believe the law, that curtails sovereign immunities, represents a grave danger to the international system,” Jubeir said.