Trials & Litigation

Court filing seeks information about missing Malaysia Air flight

Updated: In an opening salvo in what is expected to be a barrage of litigation over the disappearance of Malaysia Air Flight 370 earlier this month, a Chicago law firm has made an Illinois court filing seeking information that could help explain what happened to the plane and the 239 passengers and crew aboard it.

Ribbeck Law Chartered asked the airline and the manufacturer of the Boeing 777 plane to provide information in discovery in its Cook County Circuit Court filing Monday and says the firm expects to represent survivors of about half the passengers on the doomed flight, the Chicago Tribune reports.

“Our theory of the case is that there was a failure of the equipment in the cockpit that may have caused a fire that rendered the crew unconscious, or perhaps because of the defects in the fuselage which had been reported before there was some loss in the cabin pressure that also made the pilot and co-pilot unconscious,” said attorney Monica Kelly, who heads the aviation practice at Ribbeck. “That plane was actually a ghost plane for several hours until it ran out of fuel.”

The law firm stated in a Monday press release that it made the court filing on behalf of Januari Siregar, describing him as the father of passenger Firman Chandra Siregar. Ribbeck lawyer Mervin Mateo later told the Wall Street Journal that the firm made a mistake in the release and that Januari Siregar is a relative of the passenger.

However, Clemens Triaji Bektikusuma, who told the Wall Street Journal that he is Firman Chandra Siregar’s brother-in-law, said that Januari Siregar is a distant relative who is not empowered to act on behalf of the family. “The family doesn’t have any legal relation with Ribbeck law firm,” he said.

Ribbeck stated in a Friday press release (PDF) that it had filed another petition for discovery on behalf of Lee Khim Fatt, the husband of Foong Wai Yueng, who was a crew member on Flight 370.

International investigators are still trying to find a crash scene and wreckage, which is now believed to be in the Indian Ocean. Possible scenarios that could have caused or contributed to the crash include but are not limited to hijacking, pilot malfeasance and weather conditions.

In its court filing, the law firm asked for data on possible defects in the missing airplane and its components, its cargo, and the training of the crew, among other information.

See also: “Potential liability for missing Malaysia Air flight depends, in part, on finding plane”

Malaysian Insider: “Families of passengers hire US law firm to sue Boeing, MAS over MH370 tragedy”

Telegraph: “Malaysia Airlines MH370: March 26 as it happened”

Wall Street Journal: “Malaysia Airlines Reinsurers to Split $100M Cost of Flight 370”

Last updated on March 28 to note Ribbeck’s announcement that there has been another filing.

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