NEW YORK – Dozens of insurers Wednesday sued Al Qaeda (search) and Usama bin Laden as well as several Middle Eastern countries, seeking $300 billion in damages related to claims paid out for the Sept. 11 attacks (search).
The insurers, which include units of Chubb Corp. (CB) and Munich Re's American Re (search), brought suit in federal court in New York and Washington, D.C. against groups such as al Qaeda and as well as countries including Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia.
The suit, which was filed just one day before the two-year anniversary of the airplane attacks that killed about 3,000 people, argues these parties were responsible for the attacks, which resulted in the worst insurance disaster in history.
It comes on the heels of Tuesday's decision by a New York judge to let lawsuits against airlines and the World Trade Center's owners proceed. The suits were filed by families who said negligence played a key role in the casualties caused by the Sept. 11 attacks.
The insurers' suit seeks to recoup billions of dollars of property-and-casualty and workers compensation claims in addition to punitive damages.
While lawyers representing insurers aren't expecting the likes of Al Qadea to pay up, they will be seeking to claim some of the $2 billion to $3 billion in assets of organizations that were frozen by the federal government.
"Do I expect to get money from Usama bin Laden? No," said Elliott Feldman, a partner at Philadelphia-based law firm Cozen O'Connor, which is representing plaintiffs. "But clearly there are certain individuals and groups we identify in the suit that it would be inappropriate to omit."
Feldman said he expects the suit to be consolidated with other suits that have been filed by victims' families against terror groups.
More than $18.5 billion in insurance claims related to the Sept. 11 attacks had been filed as of this July, according to the Insurance Information Institute (search).
The United States has blamed al Qaeda, which is led by bin Laden, for the Sept. 11 attacks.