US Court ordered to hear petitions against MAS, Boeing by MH370 kin

US Court ordered to hear petitions against MAS, Boeing by MH370 kin

Families of the still-missing Malaysia Airlines (MAS) Flight MH370 will finally get their day in court after the Illinois Appeals Court ordered a lower court to hear their petitions against the airline and aircraft manufacturer Boeing Co.

Utusan Malaysia reported today that Ribbeck Law Chartered, the law firm representing the aggrieved families, finally succeeded in its twin bids for court orders to force both MAS and Boeing to turn over data and documents on MH370 for a possible lawsuit.

Quoting lawyer Monica Kelly, the report said that the Illinois Appeals Court found that the Cook County Circuit Court had erred in its judgment when it threw out the firm’s bid last year even without allowing the petitions to be heard in trial.

“This is a very meaningful win for the family members of the victims onboard MH370. We believe that they reserve every right to have the case tried in the court in Illinois,” said Kelly, who is Ribbeck’s head of Global Aviation Litigation.

Kelly added that it came as a “shock” when the families’ petitions were struck out by the court before it went to trial on March 31 last year.

According to a Bloomberg report on the case last year, Cook County Circuit Judge Kathy M. Flanagan threw out the petitions and threatened to punish the lawyers if they attempted to use such a tactic again to force the firms to turn over data about the missing MAS flight.

“Commencing today the court will impose sanctions on the law firm if there are any other unfounded filings,” Flanagan was quoted saying in the March ruling.

The judge said although seeking information about an accident before filing a lawsuit is permitted when blame has yet to be apportioned, the procedure “isn’t otherwise permitted”.

Bloomberg also reported the judge as saying that the rules only allow such discover “for the sole purpose of ascertaining the identity of one who may be liable in damages”.

According to Utusan’s report today, Kelly said the Illinois Appeals Court’s decision on the matter was made in November 26 last year.

“The decision was announced yesterday,” Kelly was quoted saying.

The lawyer added that the Appeals Court also ruled that the Cook County Circuit judge had no power to reject or allow petitions without putting them to trial first.

MAS Flight MH370 carrying 239 people had vanished from radar on March 8 after taking off from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

On March 24, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak confirmed that the still missing jetliner “ended” its journey in the southern Indian Ocean, a location he described as remote and far from any possible landing site.

Utusan Malaysia also quoted Kelly saying today that the firm has also been approached by family members of victims onboard Indonesia AirAsia’s QZ8501 to represent them in another similar lawsuit.

“Our law firm will be filing for a petition of discovery in representing the families of victims of QZ8501 soonest, after our investigators vet through the available information at hand,” Kelly reportedly said.
~ MM


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