A Navy widow who lost her husband on September 11, 2001 when terrorists flew a commercial airplane into the Pentagon is the first American to sue the Saudi government for the attacks that brought down four planes, the Pentagon, and the World Trade Center towers.
Stephanie Ross DeSimone filed suit against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. on Friday, alleging that the Saudi kingdom provided material support to the terrorists who carried out the attacks, according to Bloomberg.
DeSimone was pregnant when the 9/11 terrorists killed her husband, Navy Commander Patrick Dunn. She has also filed suit on behalf of her daughter.
The Saudi government has denied participation in the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 Americans, however, 15 of the 19 hijackers who seized the commercial jets used in the attacks were Saudis. Additionally the recent release of a previously classified government report detailing the contact the 9/11 hijackers had with the Saudi government has raised serious questions about the kingdom’s participation.
DeSimone filed her lawsuit two days after Congress overrode a presidential veto opening the door to suits like DeSimone’s, granting Americans the ability to sue foreign governments that allegedly aid terrorist attacks in the United States.
She is the first of likely many 9/11 victims and there families who are now able to sue the Saudi government for its alleged support of the attacks. President Barack Obama initially vetoed the legislation that has opened the door to such suits, saying that such a measure could expose the United State to similar liability abroad.
Last week, however, Congress overrode that veto on a vote of 97 to 1 in the Senate and 348 to 77 in the House.
According to Bloomberg, DeSimone is seeking compensatory and punitive damages for wrongful death and intentional infliction of emotional distress.