MH17 passenger's son sues airline in Australian court

A relative of an Australian victim of Flight MH17 at a memorial unveiled outside Parliament House in Canberra last Friday.
A relative of an Australian victim of Flight MH17 at a memorial unveiled outside Parliament House in Canberra last Friday.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

SYDNEY • The first legal action against Malaysia Airlines over the ill-fated Flight MH17 - which was shot down over Ukraine more than a year ago - has been filed by the son of a passenger, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

The papers were filed by Australian Tim Lauschet at the country's Supreme Court through Sydney firm LHD Lawyers last Friday, the newspaper reported yesterday.

Mr Lauschet lost his mother Gabriele Lauschet when the Boeing 777 crashed on July 17 last year during a flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.

The newspaper said 48-year-old Gabriele Lauschet was a respected teacher at the German International School in northern Sydney.

All 298 passengers and crew on board the plane were killed, the majority of them Dutch, but with 38 Australian citizens and residents among them.

The plane was shot down during a bout of heavy fighting last year between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists, sparking global condemnation.

The Australian paper's report, citing the legal claim, said Mr Lauschet, 24, a labourer, had been forced to sell the family home and give up his job following the loss of his mother.

He said he had received US$50,000 (S$68,400) in compensation. But his lawyers argue that, under international law, all families of the victims should have immediately received "no questions asked" payments of US$113,100. The lawyers said that accepting this sum would not preclude them from making further claims.

Mr Lauschet said he had received his mother's care, education, guidance and encouragement as well as financial benefits and support. The claim said he had suffered a "recognised psychiatric and/or psychological injury as a result of the death of his deceased mother", adding that he was no longer able to continue working after the incident.

He said he had no choice but to take legal action as the airline had not responded to his lawyers' questions in January.

"What choice do I have? Roll over and play dead? I'm trying to put my life back together but it's really hard and Malaysia Airlines is not helping," the paper quoted Mr Lauschet as saying.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 20, 2015, with the headline 'MH17 passenger's son sues airline in Australian court'. Print Edition | Subscribe