- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 13, 2001

The pregnant widow of a financial worker killed in the World Trade Center terrorist attacks has sued Osama bin Laden and Afghanistan's Taliban leaders, the first case from the Sept. 11 attacks.
Lawyer James E. Beasley predicts his client identified in court papers only as Jane Doe to avoid "retaliation by these nuts" could win a verdict exceeding $1 billion. If victorious, he did not say how he would collect from defendants named in the suit, al Qaeda leader bin Laden, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and the Taliban.
"She's a widow left with four children and one on the way, so she will have five fatherless children to raise," Mr. Beasley said yesterday. The 15-page lawsuit was filed Thursday at New York's federal court, near the still-smoking rubble.
Mr. Beasley said he can overcome a federal law that protects foreign governments from being sued here the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act. (FSIA)
Veteran aviation-law specialist Aaron Broder scoffed at Mr. Beasley's theory of circumventing the FSIA, and said United and American airlines should pay.
"All of that just diverts attention from who is the real wrongdoer in terms of security here," said Mr. Broder, who advertised for terrorist-attack clients on Page 1 of the New York Times in defiance of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America (ATLA) moratorium against such litigation.
Mr. Broder has successfully represented victims' families in several high-profile terrorist attacks on airliners, including Pan Am Flight 103, which was destroyed by a bomb over Lockerbie, Scotland.
Steven R. Perles, the Washington lawyer who won $888 million in judgments from Iran for its state support of bombings in Israel, said the FSIA absolutely immunizes foreign governments from litigation unless designated a terrorist state. Afghanistan doesn't have that designation.
Mr. Perles said a law change last year allows the government to seize foreign assets to pay a portion of compensatory losses, but not punitive damages. Mr. Beasley's suit asks for triple damages for the worker's family.
The lawsuit that identifies the worker by the initials T.S. does not violate the ATLA moratorium, said Mr. Beasley, who interpreted it as discouraging lawsuits against the airlines.
"These suckers are not entitled to a moratorium," said the Philadelphia lawyer, whose office specializes in product-liability and medical-malpractice lawsuits.
While Mr. Perles said he turned away potential clients, Mr. Broder is recruiting clients. His two tiny front-page ads in the New York Times, which he estimates cost $1,000 each, have kept the telephone ringing at his Fifth Avenue office.
Mr. Broder is known for defining "pre-impact terror" as a claimable injury. He said that alone will pump up awards from the four hijacked airliners, particularly on United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed at Shanksville, Pa., after passengers reportedly revolted against the hijackers.
"That will be a tremendous verdict," he predicted.
Both Mr. Broder and Mr. Perles criticized aspects of the federal compensation program authorized in a Sept. 22 law, which asks victims' families to waive their right to sue in exchange for expected grants from the federal treasury.
"The requirement that applicants waive the right to sue is contemptible and despicable, as is the requirement that victims repay the government for money received from insurance and such," Mr. Broder said.
"What it amounts to in simple English is these people have to sign blind. The airlines escape completely. They don't pay a dime to the fund.
"You instantly waive all rights the moment you sign up for the fund," he said, vowing to keep his clients from doing so until they see the scope of the grants.

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