Families of crash victims to sue Asiana in the US

The families of the three girls killed in the Asiana Airlines jetliner crash in San Francisco on July 6 have retained a US law firm to claim compensation from the airline.

A notice was on the website of Kreindler & Kreindler LLP on Monday saying the firm has been retained by the families of the three students "and US and foreign passengers who suffered serious personal injuries" in the crash of Asiana Airlines Flight 214.

Relatives of three Chinese teenagers who died after a plane crash in San Francisco on July 6 return to their hometown in Jiangshan, Zhejiang province, on Monday. They brought back the three girls' ashes. Photo : Chinadaily

"The firm is vigorously investigating all potential contributing causes of the crash," the notice read. The firm's home page states it has a "well-earned" reputation in dealing with aviation accident litigation, and has offices in New York, Boston and Los Angeles.

"It clearly shows the families will take legal action against the airline in the United States," said Hao Junbo, a lawyer for all the students on the airplane authorized by the city government of Jiangshan, Zhejiang province, where they lived.

Of 307 people onboard including crew at the time of the crash, student Wang Linjia was killed instantly and her schoolmate Ye Mengyuan died after being run over by a rescue vehicle as it raced to the burning plane. A third girl, Liu Yipeng, died six days later from injuries she suffered in the crash. They were all students of Jiangshan Middle School. Another 182 passengers were injured.

Justin T. Green, a lawyer at Kreindler & Kreindler, said nearly 30 passengers who were seriously injured, including the families of the deceased girls, have retained the firm, 21stCentury Business Herald reported.

The firm has previously been involved in lawsuits for victims of the Sept 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the 1988 Lockerbie incident, in which 270 people were killed after a bomb aboard the plane exploded.

Ashes return home

Carrying the ashes of the three teenagers, 10 relatives of the deceased girls returned to their hometown of Jiangshan on Monday morning after flying with China Eastern Airlines from San Francisco and arriving at Shanghai Pudong International Airport at around 5 pm on Sunday.

Early on Monday morning, the victims' ashes were placed in the Jiangshan Municipal Funeral Parlor. Funerals and memorial services are scheduled for a later date, according to the Jiangshan government publicity office.

A farewell ceremony was held in a cemetery in San Francisco on July 24 local time, and the bodies were cremated the following day.

Legal experts said they support the families' choice to file suits in the US to obtain the maximum compensation. "According to the international convention, the plaintiff can choose to file a lawsuit at his or her permanent residence or the destination of the flight or the country of the air carrier. Compensation is usually based on per capita income where the lawsuit is filed," said Yi Shenghua, a Beijing lawyer from the Yingke Law Firm, adding that income levels in China, South Korea and the United States differ greatly.

He said based on information his firm received, the carrier hopes to apply Chinese laws to the compensation agreement mainly because the amount would be lower in China, while some compensation requests are not supported by Chinese law.


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