The world watched in horror after American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center at 8:46 a.m., Sept. 11, 2001. A second plane, United Airlines Flight 175, crashed into the World Trade Center’s South Tower minutes later at 9:03 a.m. American Airlines Flight 77 later crashed into the Pentagon’s western façade at 9:37 a.m. After a delay in takeoff, passengers and crew aboard United Airlines Flight 93 learned of the attacks in New York and Washington, D.C. and fought back against hijackers on the plane, forcing their attackers to crash into a field in Pennsylvania before it could reach its intended target.
Nearly 3,000 people lost their lives in the attacks, making the tragedy the deadliest terrorist attack ever on U.S. soil. Nineteen hijackers with weapons carried out the attacks and used the planes as missiles in a plan to destroy targets in New York City and Washington D.C.
Survivors and family members of the deceased desperately sought answers and accountability in the tragedy’s wake, and their fight for justice continues to this day. Over the past 20 years they have captured the world’s attention and shone a light on terrorism, enacting laws to hold the supporters of terrorism accountable and sever their financial pipeline.
After the attacks, Motley Rice attorneys led and continue to lead the charge to develop groundbreaking complex litigation against the financiers and material supporters of the terrorist organization al Qaeda.
Motley Rice also launched a worldwide, private discovery effort to uncover the alleged negligence of airlines, security companies and airports in connection with the attacks. At the request of victims’ families and survivors of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, our attorneys initiated legal action against airlines and security companies in In re September 11 Litigation, representing 56 of the 96 families that opted out of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund in hopes of gaining greater answers, accountability and recourse through consolidated actions against the airlines and security companies responsible for the hijacked planes used in the 9/11 attacks. Our work led our investigators and attorneys to dozens of countries, and an astonishing collection of documents were recovered showing what we believed to be clear knowledge by the carriers and others of their security shortcomings regarding terrorist threats. The resulting settlements shattered a settlement matrix developed and utilized for decades.
In keeping with late Motley Rice co-founder Ron Motley’s “no stone left unturned” discovery philosophy, Motley Rice lawyers are prosecuting the case under the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) for 9/11 families and survivors demanding accountability for material support provided to al Qaeda.
In a case with more than 7,000 docket filings, it would be impossible to identify all the legal milestones. Here are some of the key events that unfolded over the past 20 years on their road to justice: