Recent International Headlines
LOS ANGELES, CA -- (Marketwire) -- 02/15/11 -- For the families of the victims of the Yemenia Airlines flight 626 plane crash on June 30, 2009, a group of California law firms has filed case BC452279 in Los Angeles Superior Court against International Lease Finance Corporation (ILFC). The Airbus A310 leased by ILFC to Yemenia airlines crashed on approach to Prince Said Ibrahim International Airport, in Moroni, Comoros.
The case charges both ILFC and the unnamed principals
whose negligence contributed to the crash that killed a
hundred and fifty-two individuals, and nearly killed the
one survivor, 12-year-old Bahia Bakari who was rescued
after spending thirteen hours adrift in the Indian Ocean.
Plaintiffs assert that Yemenia Airlines was "incompetent, unfit, inexperienced and/or reckless in its operation as an air carrier," which can be ascertained by looking at the airline's "long and notorious history of poor maintenance on an epic scale, poor pilot training and total lack of compliance with minimum standards of safety at every level of the company from 1999 to the present" (including but not limited to substandard or non-existent SARP, training, inspections, pilot certification and supervision, plane maintenance and airworthiness, and in-house regulations/documentation.) As the leasing agency ILFC is responsible for seeing they lease to responsible airline operators.
Yemenia Airlines Flight 749 flew from Marseille to Sana'a International Airport, where passengers disembarked from a different airbus, and boarded Flight 626 Airbus A310 (70-ADJ). This second Airbus had avoided European airspace since an inspection in 2007 revealed it as being in noncompliance with ICAO standards.
"We expect that attorneys representing other families in France will want their clients to join this lawsuit in the United States," explains George Hatcher, whose Air Crash Consultants firm provides international communications support, investigative, paralegal and claims management services in the case.
Since 1974, the law firm of Engstrom, Lipscomb & Lack has handled hundreds of personal injury and wrongful death cases arising out of accidents involving commercial air carriers, commuter airlines, privately owned airplanes and helicopters, and military aircraft, in the United States and internationally.
The law firm of Girardi | Keese has successfully recovered in excess of three billion dollars on behalf of their clients. Thomas V. Girardi has been proclaimed "The Billion Dollar Gentleman" by the Los Angeles Daily Journal for having achieved over $1 billion in verdicts and settlements over a two-year period.
Engstrom, Lipscomb & Lack
Girardi | Keese
Air Crash Consultants
Air Crash Consultants
Indian Victims: International Compensation!
Published on Sat, Jul 10 15:41, Updated at Sat, Jul 10 at 16:15
Source : Moneycontrol.com | Watch Video :
Ordinarily we do not cover non-corporate law events but this development might mark the first class action attempt by Indians and hence it makes for a very interesting story. Some victims of the Mangalore Air India Express crash have come together to pursue further compensation not from the airline but from the aircraft manufacturer or its suppliers. I will admit it is a developing story but it is an interesting one like I pointed out and Isha Dalal is here to fill you in with all the details.
On May 22, 2010 168 people lost their lives when Air India Express flight 812 crashed while landing on the Mangalore runway. The Montreal convention lays out international guidelines for compensation in airline accidents. Article 21 says that each passenger is eligible for atleast 100,000 Special Drawing Rights which is approximately Rs 70 lakh. But ultimately compensation is the discretion of the airline and Air India has offered interim compensation of Rs 10 lakh to each adult victim’s family and Rs 2 lakh to each injured passenger. Some of the victims’ families are asking for more and taking their case all the way to the United States. Earlier this week over 10 families in Mangalore signed on three US based aviation law firms i.e. Masry & Vititoe, Girardi & Keese and Engstrom, Lipscomb and Lack to explore a suit against the aircraft manufacturer, its suppliers and maybe even insurance companies.Nishit Dhruva of Mumbai based law firm M Dhruva and Partners is doing the India ground work.
Dhruva: We are trying to begin by negotiating with the insurance companies to ensure that each of the family members receive the maximum compensation.
Q: Have these kinds of claims – the case of Indian industrial disasters or perhaps an aircrash in India ever been filed sort of against the manufacturer or even an operator or a component manufacturer in another country successfully?
Dhruva: To my knowledge, I am not aware of any such cases but the cases which is proposed to be now filed through the American law firms, the advantage is that there is no cost to be paid by the family members.
Narration: That is because in this case like in American class action suits, the litigation cost will be borne by the law firms. They receive a portion of the settlement amount as fees.George Hatcher of New York based Air Crash Consultants is working with the victims and the foreign law firms to get this case started.
George Hatcher, President, Air Crash Consultants: What do I mean by starting the case the insurance companies have been served a notice that the law firms in the United States represent them and all negotiations are supposed to go through them. The law firms in US will start their own investigation into the process, they see if there is any other culpable parties besides the operator in this case here in India and that is the beginning of the case. It is just now beginning.
Q: When you say other culpable parties besides the operator, what would you mean by that because in this case, I understand from the statements that have been coming out from the government and from the operator that they believe it to be a pilot error or a human error. So what do you mean when you say other culpable parties?
Hatcher: Let us say that the pilot had made a mistake, we don’t know that but let us say that he had when he made that mistake whatever it was, there is something failed, there something that was not there for that pilot to utilize, was there not enough power on the engines, that the engines lose power, the two altimeters on the plane, were they working, were they telling him what distance he was from the ground, he might have had a false reading. It is just like this in Turkish Airlines, some years back had the same situation where one altimeter wasn’t working and the plane crashed onto the runway and luckily not everybody was died but there was deaths and so forth. So in that case they went after the lawyers whoever handled that particular case – they certainly had a case on behalf of the clients for the manufacturer of that altimeter. So it could be here, we have a plane here that is manufactured in United States, we have components here in plane that are probably manufactured in the United States and wherever they are manufactured, a good lawyer is going to look into and speak to experts who is going to point out other possible things that might have gone wrong that are not being talked about at that moment.
Narration: Infact back in 2007 when a flight operated by Brazilian Airline TAM Air crashed in São Paulo, a similar approach helped 70 victim families secure over USD 120 million in additional compensation.
Q: Can you give me a sense of the timelines we are looking at, ofcourse right now you are still in investigation stage so to speak in terms of finding out how this case can next be proceeded with but what are the sort of timelines we are looking at before we can even get to a lawsuit stage or the settlement stage although that might be in the far future from now?
Hatcher: It is difficult for me to answer that because investigations can take a year or two years. In Thailand the 1-2-3 Go crash, the federal investigation just several months ago or a month ago was released after three years since the accident. So it can take a long time.To a lawsuit point, in other cases, my clients have filed a case within 20 days of a crash because they felt they already had a culpable party other than the operator.
Q: So maybe a year atleast till we get to a lawsuit kind of stage?
Hatcher: It could take a year and it is all probably within a couple of years based on my experience that is about what it takes to move a case. Narration: Over the next few months, the law firms and the team of experts will examine the Mangalore crash wreckage to secure evidence on the course of the crash. There are also hoping to sign on more victim families. Successful or not, this case may mark the first attempt by Indians at class action.
Air Yemenia Crash: Americans strike-backPublished on Wednesday 3rd February, 2010 at 7:34am
Air Crash Consultants, mandated by 35 families, will be in Marseille on Saturday.Seven months after the crash of Yemenia flight 626 off Grande Comore, on June 29, 2009, which killed 152 of its 153 passengers, including 66 French, the Americans are trying to open a breach in the compensation scheme.
American Law firm Masry & Vititoe and Air Crash Consultants, a US firm specialized in air crashes, who claim to defend 35 families of victims to this day, are increasing efforts and investigations in the U.S. to uncover all responsibilities.
According to George Hatcher, Air Crash Consultants’ president, who we have been able to reach yesterday in L.A, « our first goal is to obtain urgent financial compensation for the families, as some of them haven’t received anything yet. » We know the major problems that have quickly arisen to issue the death certificates, when people were missing without their bodies being found. We are studying all the evidence, because in the United States, the range of responsibilities is very varied. It goes beyond the airplane manufacturer. The bank which has allowed to operate the aircraft can be liable. Even if there was pilot error, it is never 100% pilot error, says Mr. Hatcher.
« The plane was nineteen years old. It was poorly maintained by the company. And it had a lot of U.S. components. » Manufacturers could be liable, as the company that operated the plane, if we are to believe Mr. Hatcher, the International Leasing Finance Corporation (ILFC), based in Los Angeles.
Will their investigation even call into question the responsibility of the Airbus manufacturer? Air Crash Consultants claims to have investigated in the past 45 years on 29 different cases of air crashes classified as « wrongful death » and being a consultant for the four largest law firms in the world specialized into « air crash cases ».
« If we had discovered that there were no other responsibilities involved, we would have stopped the investigation, Mr. Hatcher insists, because it requires important financial contributions ». The firm hopes to find weaknesses and move the case to the United States. The U.S. firm Masry and Vititoe has also given summons to Yemenia Airways to appear before hearing in front of Mister Chairman of the Supreme Court of Paris.
George Hatcher questioned the difference in the speed of action taken depending on which international conventions apply. The victims of flight Rio-Paris AF447 on June, 1 have received immediate provisional compensation, because Brazil and France are two rich countries that had ratified the Montreal Convention. To try to move things forward, George Hatcher will be in Marseille on Saturday, where he will meet the families of victims.