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Unfinished Business

Bill Doyle is on a mission to prove that Saudi Arabia bankrolled the 9/11 attacks

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The Saudi princes were only a small portion of the others granted reprieve from the lawsuit: Since the case’s original filing, dismissals have been granted for scores of other defendants. In addition, 127 defendant individuals and organizations have defaulted; six, including Osama bin Laden, have died. Today, only 24 defendants remain on Motley’s list.

Jodi Flowers, an attorney co-leading the case with Motley, says that she is still hoping for a 2012 trial date. “Delay is not a friend of the plaintiff here,” Flowers says. “It is frustrating to be nine years out and still not have a trial date.”

The case still has the potential to yield a monumental decision, however – defendant Muslim World League, for example, is a vast and influential non-governmental organization highly regarded in the Arab world. (The MWL’s attorney, Martin McMahon, did not respond to a request for comment.) The country of Sudan, where bin Laden lived comfortably for five years, from 1991 to 1996, is also a defendant. Since it is designated by the U.S. government as a state sponsor of terror, it is not protected by the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, which determines whether a nation can be sued in a U.S. court. And the affluent Saudi Binladin Group is still on the list; Brisard, as well as Summers and Swan, indicate that the bin Laden family’s “disowning” of Osama in 1994 was only superficial.

Flowers does not like to talk much about dollar amounts – a CNN report once misrepresented the legal action as a “$116 trillion lawsuit,” and she acknowledges that the suit is about bankrupting the defendants, not enriching the plaintiffs, the majority of whom have already been compensated by the federal government’s compensation fund. “For some families, it has been therapeutic to seek redress in a civil action,” Flowers says. “It’s not as if they can go out and hunt these people down themselves.”

Despite the setbacks the suit has suffered, Bill Doyle still holds Motley’s effort in high regard. “I don’t think there’s a 9/11 family out there who questions his ability,” Doyle says. “How many other law firms would stay for 10 years and still fight?”

For a man who lost so much on 9/11, Bill Doyle doesn’t seem very angry, at least in person. The condition of his wife, who has the autoimmune condition scleroderma, rapidly worsened after 9/11; less than a week after the Doyles’ interview for this story she was scheduled to have heart ablation surgery. (The surgery was later aborted, as doctors deemed it too dangerous.) “She can’t walk 15 steps from here,” Doyle said of his wife, matter-of-factly, when the Weekly visited his home in early August. “You’ll see her in a minute – she’ll be in a go-go cart.”

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