Judge Rejects Many Claims in 9/11 Cases

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By BENJAMIN WEISER
June 17, 2010
NYTimes.com

A federal judge in Manhattan who was criticized by families of victims of 9/11 for taking too long to decide motions in lawsuits they had filed has handed down a ruling dismissing claims made against many of the defendants.

The judge, George B. Daniels of Federal District Court, has overseen a group of lawsuits filed in the wake of the attacks. The suits sought to hold charities, financial institutions and individuals responsible for providing money and other support to Al Qaeda.

The terrorism-financing suits are not related to separate 9/11 wrongful death and injury claims brought by families and rescue and cleanup workers that are before another judge and appear near resolution. Judge Daniels, in his ruling made public on Thursday, cited jurisdictional grounds in dismissing dozens of defendants.

Robert T. Haefele, a plaintiffs’ lawyer, said, “We are pleased that the court has ruled but naturally disagree with the decision.” He said it could “immunize and embolden” terror sponsors.

Mr. Haefele and other plaintiffs’ lawyers had filed a petition this month with the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, asking that the judge be removed from the case. They said he had not acted on almost 100 petitions to dismiss since being assigned the case in 2007.

One defense lawyer, Lynne A. Bernabei, said, “Finally the court has recognized that these defendants, including many of our defendants, had nothing to do with the horrific acts on 9/11.”

Ms. Bernabei’s firm represents, among others, the Saudi Arabian Red Crescent Society, which gives medical aid and other services. The only defendant whose motion to dismiss was denied was Dubai Islamic Bank; a lawyer for the bank did not respond to a request for comment.

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