Congress Votes in Favor of JASTA Bill, Allows Countries to be Sued for Terrorist Activities
Families who want to sue the nation of Saudi Arabia over the 9/11 terrorist attacks are hoping that their lawsuit will move forward in light of recent events in Congress. Last fall, Congress voted to override Obama’s veto of the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, or JASTA, which would allow 9/11 victims to file a lawsuit against Saudi Arabia for allegedly assisting in the terrorist attacks.
Parker Waichman LLP is a national personal injury law firm that has fought for the rights of 9/11 responders and survivors since the beginning. The firm continues to advocate for 9/11 heroes.
JASTA states in part “(7) The United States has a vital interest in providing persons and entities injured as a result of terrorist attacks committed within the United States with full access to the court system in order to pursue civil claims against persons, entities, or countries that have knowingly or recklessly provided material support or resources, directly or indirectly, to the persons or organizations responsible for their injuries.”
The bill, if passed, would allow civil lawsuits against any sovereign countries that “knowingly or recklessly contribute material support or resources, directly or indirectly, to persons or organizations that pose a significant risk of committing acts of terrorism…” This essentially means that victims of terrorist attacks could hold countries liable for these activities.
The plaintiffs looking to sue Saudi Arabia allege that high-ranking officials financially sponsored two hijackers in San Diego, and engaged in a complex network of activities to support the terrorists.
In vetoing the bill, Obama said JASTA would leave the United States vulnerable to litigation from other countries in turn. Saudi Arabia is also an ally to the U.S. and has highly prized oil reserves, many news outlets note. The White House severely criticized the override, calling it the “most embarrassing thing” lawmakers have done in decades.
9/11 Victims and the Zadroga Act
Responders and survivors who became injured or sick due to the 9/11 attacks can receive benefits through the Zadroga Act, which Obama signed into law in 2011. The bill was reauthorized in 2015, providing permanent medical benefits for ill 9/11 victims. The act funds two programs, the World Trade Center Health Program and the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF).
Zadroga benefits expired in 2015; at the end of the year, the Act was reauthorized, effectively making the WTC Health Program permanent. Renewal provides $3.5 billion to fund the WTC Health program for another 75 years to 2090. Many responders, survivors, and 9/11 advocates, including Parker Waichman, fought for Zadroga Act reauthorization. The firm continues to proudly fight for the rights of 9/11 responders and survivors.
Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that more people are enrolling in the WTC Health Program, suggesting that the number of people with 9/11-related conditions is increasing. CDC data shows that 2,500 people newly enrolled into the WTC Health Program during the 1-year period ending June 30, 2016. More than 75,000 people around the country are being monitored or treated through the program, including the new enrollees. Most people in the program are rescue and recovery workers, who had the greatest exposure.
When the towers fell, they were released a cloud of toxic materials. The dust contained a number of hazardous substances, including asbestos; pulverized cement; polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs); benzene; dioxin; glass fibers; gypsum; jet fuel; heavy metals, including lead and other chemicals. 9/11 exposure has been linked to more than 90 health conditions, including over 60 types of cancer. Studies continue to link 9/11 exposure to various health problems.
Studies continue to show that WTC exposure is associated with serious health conditions. Last year, a study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine found that exposure was associated with neuropathy, a type of nerve damage. Given these findings, the authors called for neuropathy to be added to the list of conditions covered by the Zadroga Act, which offers benefits to sick and injured 9/11 responders and survivors. “As neuropathy treatment in responders is currently not covered under the WTC program, our findings have strong policy implications and suggest that neuropathy should be added to the list of conditions covered,” the authors stated.
In general, 9/11-related conditions include various respiratory and digestive disorders, dozens of cancers, and mental health problems.
Last summer, the journal Alzheimer’s and Dementia: Diagnosis, Assessment and Disease Monitoring published a study showing that World Trade Center (WTC) responders have higher rates of cognitive impairment, which leads to problems with memory and thinking skills.
Legal Help for 9/11 Responders and Survivors
Parker Waichman is proud to have fought alongside Ground Zero residents, workers, first responders, and other survivors and advocates, to help ensure passage of Zadroga Act amendments. The firm vows to continue its efforts to safeguard all those who were exposed to Ground Zero’s toxic cloud and the trauma of the attacks, and ensure that all the deserved Zadroga Act compensation is received. To determine eligibility for compensation under the Act, fill out our online form or call 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).
Further Zadroga Act resources: