Law firm to sue Boeing over Asiana San Francisco crash

Posted on 18 Jul 2013 by Tim Brown

Chicago law firm Ribbeck Law Chartered has taken steps to undertake a class action against Boeing on behalf of 83 passengers on the ill fated Asiana Airlines flight that crash-landed in San Francisco earlier this month.

The law firm alleges that a malfunction of the plane’s autothrottle may have caused the crash.

The pilots of Asiana Flight 214 have told investigators they were relying on automated cockpit equipment to control their speed. According to the National Transportation Safety Board, investigators found that the autothrottle had been “armed,” or “made ready for activation”, but are still trying to determine whether it had been engaged.

In addition to potential problems with the Boeing 777’s auto throttle, some emergency slides reportedly opened inside the plane, injuring passengers and blocking their exit, and some passengers had to be cut out of their seatbelts with a knife, the firm contends.

Three Chinese teenage girls were killed when the airplane, carrying 307 passengers and crew on a flight from South Korea to San Francisco International Airport on July 6, approached the runway too low and slow. The plane clipped a seawall at the end of a runway, tearing off the tail and sending the plane spinning down the runway. The impact caused the plane to catch fire.

“We must find the causes of the crash and demand that the problems with the airline and the aircraft are immediately resolved to avoid future tragedies,” attorney Monica R. Kelly, head of Ribbeck’s aviation department, said in a written statement.

Ribbeck Law Chartered on Monday filed a petition for discovery, which is meant to preserve evidence, in Cook County Circuit Court in Chicago, where the aircraft manufacturer is headquartered. The firm said in a news release that additional pleadings will be filed against Asiana Airlines and several component parts manufacturers in coming days.

The petition asks a judge to order Boeing to identify the designer and manufacturer of the airplane’s autothrottle and its emergency evacuation slides. It also seeks information on the systems that indicate the airplane’s glide slope and that warn how close it is to the ground. Kelly said the firm wants to protect the wreckage “from destructive testing” and to obtain maintenance records, internal memos and other evidence.

A spokesman for Boeing said the firm currently had no comment to make regarding the law suit.