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Trials & Litigation

Judge axes first law firm filing over missing Malaysia Air flight

Posted Mar 31, 2014 2:45 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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An Illinois judge on Friday threw out a civil court filing by a Chicago law firm over the Malaysia Air flight that disappeared earlier this month.

The Ribbeck Law Chartered petition for discovery, believed to be the first court filing concerning the missing plane, is inappropriate because it isn't supported by state law, ruled Cook County Circuit Judge Kathy Flanagan.

As the law firm was told when it filed similar petitions over unrelated airline crashes last year, the petitions are supposed to be filed only when defendants are unknown, the judge said. Hence, state law provides no basis for the Ribbeck's petition, which identifies the airline and Chicago-based Boeing as defendants, according to the Chicago Tribune and the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.).

"Despite these orders, the same law firm has proceeded, yet again, with the filing of the instant petition, knowing full well that there is no basis to do so," wrote Flanagan, who presides over all such airline cases in Cook County.

Observers also had questioned Ribbeck's filing, saying that it was premature since the site of and circumstances surrounding Malaysia Air Flight 370's disappearance remain unknown.

"These are the kind of lawsuits that make lawyers look bad—and we already look bad enough," Robert A. Clifford, one of Chicago's best-known personal injury lawyers, told the Chicago Tribune earlier, calling Ribbeck's filing "premature."

Clifford is a former chair of the ABA Section of Litigation, among other bar leadership posts, and Clifford Law Offices has handled a number of plane crash cases.

See also:

ABAJournal.com: "Potential liability for missing Malaysia Air flight depends, in part, on finding plane"

ABAJournal.com: "Court filing seeks information about missing Malaysia Air flight"

Slate: "Official Suggests Malaysia Airlines Search Could Take Years as Clock Ticks on Black Box Battery"

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