Trials & Litigation

Lawyer who speculated in court filing about missing Malaysia Air flight faces legal ethics case

A legal ethics case is being pursued against an Illinois attorney who made headlines by filing the first lawsuit over the Malaysia Air flight that disappeared in March.

Exactly what happened to Flight 370 remains unknown. Hence the petition by Monica Kelly—who is licensed to practice law under the name Monica Ribbeck—was frivolous, asserts the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission in a July 31 complaint (PDF), because there is no evidence that the mechanical malfunction she alleged in the Cook County Circuit Court filing existed, 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,” Kelly, who heads the aviation practice at Ribbeck Law Chartered, told the newspaper in March. “That plane was actually a ghost plane for several hours until it ran out of fuel.”

The complaint also says Kelly violated legal ethics rules by filing a petition under a rule of civil procedure that provides for discovering the identity of an individual or entity that may be responsible for damages when the manufacturer of the Boeing 777 was already known.

She could not be reached Tuesday for comment, the Tribune says, and her office told the ABA Journal that she is out of the country and may not even be aware that an ethics complaint has been filed.

See also: “Judge axes first law firm filing over missing Malaysia Air flight”

Wall Street Journal (sub. req.): “Deep-Sea Explorers Angle to Solve Mystery of Missing Malaysian Airliner”

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