First Terror Attack Lawsuit Targets Taliban, Bin Laden

By Jeff McKay | July 7, 2008 | 8:19pm EDT

(Correction: The New Jersey woman's husband was in one of the World Trade towers, not on the hijacked plane

( - A New Jersey woman whose husband was killed in one of the twin towers when a hijacked jet smashed into it on Sept. 11 is apparently the first to file a lawsuit in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks.

The woman, identified in the lawsuit only as "Jane Doe" is specifically targeting Afghanistan's Taliban regime and accused terror mastermind Osama bin Laden. The suit, filed in Manhattan federal court, also names as defendants the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and the bin Laden-led terrorist organization al-Qaida.

Jane Doe's husband, identified in the lawsuit as "T.S.," worked in the World Trade Center's Tower One and had climbed to the roof after the building was struck by American Airlines Flight 11, a hijacked 767 jumbo jet and the first jet to strike the Twin Towers.

The lawsuit was filed by James Beasley, a Philadelphia area attorney on behalf of the woman who is pregnant and already has four children left fatherless by the events of Sept. 11.

"Her grief is overwhelming and whatever can be done to see that there is true justice for herself and her children should be done," said Beasley. "[The defendants] should be held responsible for the death of a fine young man."

According to Beasley, Jane Doe's husband attempted to climb to the roof in order to be rescued. Flight 11 slammed into the tower a few floors below where the man had worked.

Beasley said the name of both the woman he represents and her husband who was killed are being withheld to protect his client's safety.

"I don't want anyone to hurt her or her children," said Beasley who added that the woman simply wants justice.

Beasley said there would be substantial assets available for families of the victims since the United States has frozen bank accounts and assets belonging to the terrorists. The lawsuit seeks at least $5 million, but Beasley said the claim could be worth much more.

Even if Beasley is successful in winning his case, current U.S. law may not allow his client and her family to receive monetary compensation.

A 1996 antiterrorism law contains a loophole, which makes it nearly impossible to allow plaintiffs in a lawsuit to collect on awards from nations or individuals whose assets were frozen. Lawyers Will Work For Free

Trial lawyers are getting together to form a nonprofit organization which will represent free of charge the victims and families of the attacks who want to be compensated from a
government-sponsored "victims' fund."

Trial Lawyers Care Inc. (TLC) was formed by the Association for Trial Lawyers of America to help guide families though hearings and help them receive money from the Victims Compensation Fund.

It is expected that legal problems stemming from the attacks could take years. Congress devised the Victims Compensation Fund to simplify and streamline the process.

The fund was part of the airline relief package enacted by Congress shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Awards from the fund are to be based on lost income, suffering and other factors, but sets no limits. Anyone who uses the fund may not sue the airlines. In addition, there will be no appeal process if anyone is unhappy with the amount of the award.

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