17 Jul 2013

Asiana passengers to sue Boeing

6:03 pm on 17 July 2013

A group of 83 passengers aboard an Asiana Airlines flight which crash-landed in San Francisco has filed a lawsuit seeking millions from the plane's manufacturer Boeing.

The jet from Shanghai via Seoul clipped a seawall with its tail as it came in to land at the American airport on 6 July this year and skidded out of control before catching fire, leaving three dead and more than 180 injured, AFP reports.

While a final determination of what caused the crash of the Boeing 777 is years away, Chicago-based Ribbeck Law said initial reports indicate that it could have been caused by a mechanical malfunction of the autothrottle.

Boeing could also have been at fault for the design of sliding ramps which deployed inside the plane, "further injuring passengers and blocking their exit to safety", Ribbeck said on Tuesday.

There were also possibly problems with the seatbelts given that police officers "had to pass knives to crew members inside the burning wreckage" so they could cut passengers free, it said.

The class action lawsuit was filed in Chicago, Boeing's corporate headquarters. It will be expanded in coming days to include Asiana and several component part manufacturers "who may be responsible for this disaster", Ribbeck said.

Zhang Yuan, who suffered severe spinal injuries and a broken leg in the crash, said it was important that victims protect their rights "immediately".

"It is terrible that the sliding ramps deployed inside the plane blocking our way to the exit door, trapping us inside the burning plane," she said in a statement. "My husband, my daughter, other passengers and I would not have suffered such terrible injuries if the sliding ramps and the seat belts would not have trapped us in the burning wreckage."

Ribbeck filed a motion on Monday seeking to require Boeing to provide details about the jet's design and maintenance and will seek access to all of the evidence discovered in the course of the investigation.

Swift legal action is "vital" for the victims and their families, because international treaties prohibit US safety regulators from making determinations of liability or fault.