Malaysia Airlines and Boeing face $1.9 billion lawsuit

KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Family members of the victims of the ill-fated Flight MH370 are filing a RM4.95 billion (S$1.9 billion) suit for compensation, against Boeing and Malaysia Airlines.

Chicago-based firm Ribbeck Law Chartered, who is acting on behalf of the family members, has started proceedings by filing a petition of discovery in an Illinois court.

Ms Monica Kelly, the lead lawyer from Ribbeck Law, said the firm which specialises in aviation law had been approached by family members from China and Indonesia.

Of the 239 people on board MH370, there were 153 China nationals and seven Indonesians.

Ms Kelly said they had spoken to family members in many countries and expected about half of those affected to take part in the suit.

She said the fact that neither the wreckage of MH370 nor the bodies of the pasengers have been found would not affect the case, as they would be inspecting the rest of the MAS fleet for similar design flaws.

"We've had successful cases where the plane, the victims or even the blackbox were not found," said Ms Kelly, during a briefing with the press in Kuala Lumpur.

A Malaysia Airlines spokesman said the airline is aware of the lawsuit.

"Our lawyers have been advised of this development.

" At this point in time, our top priority remains to provide any and all assistance to the families of the passengers and crew.

"Other matters will be dealt with appropriately," the spokesman said in a statement.

Mr Manuel Von Ribbeck of Ribbeck Law said they are 100 per cent confident of winning the suit, as according to the law, passengers are never at fault.

Mr Ribbeck said the coverage for compensation is about RM4.95 billion, and the firm would demand the full amount be paid.

For the purpose of the lawsuit, the firm assumes that the passengers are dead, based on Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak's announcement.

"We hope that miracles can happen, but based on the data we've seen so far, it does not look good for the flight and her passengers," said Mr Ribbeck.

Boeing, the manufacturers of the 777-200 aircraft, has been on the receiving end of a number of lawsuits in the past.

The most recent lawsuit was in January this year by a group of passengers, represented by Mr Ribbeck Law, who were aboard an Asiana Airlines flight that crash-landed in San Francisco on July 6 last year.

Three people were killed and more than 180 others hurt.