September 11 Victims’ Families Sue Tanzanite Dealers

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(Rapaport…February 15, 2002) The families of three September 11 victims have filed a wrongful death suit against dealers of tanzanite, alleging ties between the trade of the gemstone and Osama bin Laden, according to the Wall Street Journal. The suit was filed in federal court in Manhattan on February 14. It seeks an injunction banning New York dealer STS Jewelers Inc. from selling tanzanite and forcing the company to donate past tanzanite proceeds to a September 11 relief fund. The suit also seeks $1 billion in compensatory damages from several other defendants, including the Tanzanite Mineral Dealers Association (TAMIDA). The plaintiffs’ lawyers said the suit was inspired by a Wall Street Journal article published last November that first alleged ties between tanzanite and terrorist groups. Since then, QVC, Zale’s and Tiffany have suspended sale of the gemstone.

The suit was filed by the wives of a Cantor Fitzgerald broker and a New York police officer, and the father of a New York firefighter. They are currently anonymous, but it’s likely that they will at some point have to reveal their identities if the case progresses.

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