Less than two weeks after filing a federal lawsuit in Johnstown, a London-based group of insurers has dropped its claim that Saudi Arabia and several Saudi organizations should be held responsible for insurance claims related to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Lloyd's Syndicate 3500, part of the company more commonly known as Lloyd's of London, filed a notice on Monday that it was voluntarily dismissing its lawsuit. The dismissal is "without prejudice," which means the group can refile the lawsuit.
The defendants included the Saudi High Commission for Relief of Bosnia & Herzegovina, Saudi Joint Relief Committee for Kosovo and Chechnya, Saudi Red Crescent Society, the Saudi-based National Commerce Bank, Al Rajhi Banking and Investment Co. and three Saudi citizens connected to the organizations.
The notice filed by Stephen Cozen, a Philadelphia lawyer representing the group, doesn't provide a reason for the dismissal. Cozen, in an e-mail, declined comment.
A spokesman for the Saudi Arabia embassy in Washington couldn't be reached for comment.
Rhonda Wasserman, a University of Pittsburgh law professor, said the voluntary dismissal is a mystery because it doesn't seem to fit any of the usual reasons for dropping a lawsuit.
A voluntary dismissal coming shortly after the initial filing usually means that the plaintiffs have decided another court would be more friendly than the one where they filed, she said.
"They realize that they don't want to be there," Wasserman said.
But Cozen said Sept. 8 that Lloyd's Syndicate 3500 had decided to file the lawsuit in Western Pennsylvania instead of New York City because it believes the Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals would be more sympathetic to the lawsuit than the 2nd Circuit, whose jurisdiction includes New York. The 2nd Circuit ruled in 2008 that Saudi Arabia was immune from a lawsuit brought against it by the families of the 9/11 victims in New York federal court.
A dismissal could mean the defendants already have settled with the plaintiffs, but that's unlikely given the type of dismissal, Wasserman said.
"If it were a settlement, it would most likely be filed 'with prejudice,' " she said.
Plaintiffs sometimes dismiss lawsuits because they learn new evidence that convinces them the case won't succeed, but "that seems unlikely given how recently they filed," she said.
Cozen said previously that the plaintiffs have been researching the law for years and have been waiting for other lawsuits to settle before filing this one.