Lawsuit blames plane’s warning systems for crash

Updated: 2014-01-23 09:58

(China Daily USA)

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At least 115 plaintiffs, many of them Chinese nationals, blamed and sued Boeing Co claiming its 777 passenger jet had inadequate "auto-throttle control" and "low-airspeed" warning systems, which partially caused Asiana Flight 214 to crash at San Francisco Airport in July.

"We are asking the court to hold Boeing partially liable and help passengers get economic compensation," Monica Kelly, an attorney for Chicago-based Ribbeck Law Chartered, told China Daily on Wednesday.

"More plaintiffs are expected to be added in the next few weeks", the law firm said.

The crash killed three Chinese teenagers traveling to a US summer camp. More than 180 were injured.

The complaint filed in an Illinois court alleges that Boeing was aware that its low airspeed warning system was inadequate and that it failed to train Asiana's pilots properly.

The Boeing 777 has a warning system which sounds a tone followed by a message on a display screen saying "airspeed low". But this screen also shows several other notifications at any given time, which resulted in the pilots routinely paying attention to numerous indicators and instructions simultaneously during landing.

"As a result of the crash, each of the plaintiffs sustained injuries, including but not limited to, bodily injury and resulting pain and suffering, disability, mental anguish, loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life, medical treatment, loss of income, and medical expenses," Kelly said.

She said Boeing should be held responsible for the death of Ye Mengyuan, a 16-year-old Chinese girl who survived the plane crash but was run over a few minutes later by a fire truck on site. The girl's parents recently sued the city of San Francisco for negligence.

"It's unthinkable, because the first priority of the firefighters is saving lives and the first step is to take the pulse, check the respiration. That was never done, and the video is the best evidence," said Justin Green, the family's attorney.

On behalf of Ye's family, US law firm Kreindler & Kreindler LLP had served a formal notice of claim on the City of San Francisco, a procedural prerequisite to filing a lawsuit in court.

The claim asserts that at least five San Francisco Fire Department emergency responders knew that Ye was on the ground outside the wrecked aircraft before she was run over and killed by the fire truck.

"Recently obtained videos from fire department trucks and one responder's helmet cam reveal that, although aware of Ye's presence on the ground near one of the aircraft's emergency exit slides, none of the responders examined her, helped her, protected her, marked her presence or moved her out of harm's way," Anthony Tarricone, a partner of Kreindler & Kreindler LLP, told China Daily.

Failing as emergency responders, they abandoned Ye in a perilous position, where she was then covered with fire-suppression foam, run over, and killed by a truck whose operators knew she was there. She was eventually run over by a second truck, he said.

"On behalf of Ye's family, we are committed to unearthing the truth of what happened and holding the San Francisco Fire Department responsible," he added.

Floyd Wisner, the principal of Chicago-based Wisner Law Firm and an aviation crash attorney, told China Daily he believes the girl's parents are acting within their rights in pursuing this action.

"The Chinese parents' lawsuit may bring about changes which hopefully will prevent future such tragedies in the United States," he said.

Although firemen, police and other emergency personnel are rightfully entitled to certain protection from liability so as not to deter them from performing their often dangerous duties, the reported facts here indicate serious gross negligence by these emergency responders, he said.

"This young lady survived the crash only to be killed by emergency responders. There is no excuse for such negligence," he said.