Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Families filing lawsuits over MH370 while new 122 objects identified by a French satellite

A model of a Boeing 777 aircraft is displayed as representatives of US law firm Ribbeck Law Chartered International hold a media briefing at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur on March 26, 2014. 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. -- PHOTO: AFP 

KUALA LUMPUR - 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.

"We have done many cases where wreckage was completely destroyed, or no bodies found, or wreckage found but no black boxes working. We are not relying on these things to start the legal process," said Kelly, during a briefing to the press here.

She said such suits can take anywhere between four months to five years, but expects this case to take between one-and-a-half to two years.

The firm would focus its suit against Boeing, as they believe it was a case of equipment malfunction but could expand the defendants to include other component manufacturers or even those who trained the crew. 

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.

France's Satellite imagery shows 122 'potential objects'
This handout picture received from the Malaysian Remote Sensing Agency (MRSA) on March 27, 2014 shows imagery taken on March 23 by a French satellite showing more than 100 floating objects (within higlighted boxes) in the remote southern Indian Ocean.
This handout picture received from the Malaysian Remote Sensing Agency (MRSA) on March 27, 2014 shows imagery taken on March 23 by a French satellite showing more than 100 floating objects (within higlighted boxes) in the remote southern Indian Ocean.



KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Remote Sensing Agency (MRSA) has identified 122 “potential objects” that could be linked to the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in an area of the southern Indian Ocean, about 2,557km from Perth.

The MRSA had analysed satellite images provided by France’s Airbus Defence and Space.

Acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said the new development supported “the most credible lead” for focusing the search in the southern Indian Ocean, alluding to the analysis of British investigators that pointed to the area.

The objects were in an area of about 400sq km, he told the daily press conference at the Putra World Trade Centre here yesterday.

“Some objects are a metre in length, others as much as 23m long. Some of the objects appeared to be bright, indicating they are possibly solid,” he said.

Hishammuddin, who is also Defence Minister, added that the MRSA findings were immediately forwarded to the Australian Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Perth.

“It must be emphasised that we cannot tell whether the potential objects are from MH370.

“Nevertheless, this is another new lead that will help direct the search operation,” he said.

Hishammuddin said the search operation now had four separate satellite leads, from Australia, China and France, showing possible debris.

What had to be done now was to determine whether it was really debris and linked to MH370, he added.

Hishammuddin said Australia was leading the search effort in the southern Indian Ocean while Malaysia continued its coordinating role.

“Australia has divided the search area into two sectors: East and West.

“With the improved weather, 12 planes were deployed to the search area – six in the East sector and six in the West,” he said.

In the East sector, the search would be conducted by one Australian P3 Orion, and three Australian civilian aircraft, one Chinese Ilyushin IL-76 and one New Zealand P3 Orion.

Involved in the West sector were a US P8 Poseidon, two Australian P3 Orions and one each from South Korea and Japan as well as a civilian aircraft.

Hishammuddin also said an international working group was helping refine Inmarsat data to further narrow the search area.

The working group – consisting of Inmarsat, the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch, Civil Aviation Administration of China, the US National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration, Boeing and Rolls Royce as well as the relevant Malaysian authorities – will attempt to determine more accurately the final position of MH370. - The Star/ANN

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