The Legal Fallout of 9/11

September 11, 2012

In making my usual morning run through the news today, I was naturally met with with innumerable stories of the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks 11 years ago today.

One story in particular, though, sparked my curiosity.  This story from the Boston Herald, discusses one of the few remaining lawsuits related to the 9/11 attacks.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, even 11 years after the towers fell and the dust settled, the litigious fallout of the attacks is still being felt.

I’m sure we are all aware of some of the more high-profile outcroppings that have come about in the last 11 years, thinking of specific examples like the creation of the TSA, or the Patriot Act (available on Westlaw at Pub. L. 107-56, originally titled: The Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001).  But, just how much has happened in relation to “the law” in the wake of these attacks?

Try this very basic search on WestlawNext in All State and Federal materials:

Search: ADV: “September 11, 2001”

The result pulled back nearly 49,500 results.

Under the Cases content, the first results were from the In re Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001 and In re World Trade Center Disaster Site Litigation cases.

Statutory responses to the attacks that day ranged from tuition and fee waivers for students who are surviving dependents of people killed on 9/11 (CA EDUC 68121), to New Jersey’s Freedom Walk Day (NJ ST 36:2-130).  The image to the left is just a portion of the filter-breakdown for state statutes.

Secondary sources range from analysis of the validity of the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund (198 ALR Fed 103), to law reviews analyzing the lasting lessons from the 9/11 litigation (see, e.g., 81 S. Cal. L. Rev. 199), to the response felt in aviation law in terms of hijackings (AVIATION 10:7).

At the outset, I was surprised at the extent to which so many varied areas of the law have been impacted in the wake of the attacks.  But as I think about it more, the attacks themselves touched the very fabric of our nation and left us all changed, whether we were in New York that day, or, like me, in a college dorm room in St. Paul, Minnesota.  With that framework in mind, it’s not all that surprising that the legal aftermath would have far-reaching impacts as well.