Asiana Airline May Seek To Block U.S. Lawsuits By Foreign Passengers

Following an airplane accident while landing at San Francisco International Airport last week, experts predict that Asiana Airlines, Inc. could face a large number of lawsuits and the carrier may seek ways to prevent cases from being brought in U.S. courts by foreign passengers.

Flight 214 from Seoul crashed in San Francisco on July 6, killing at least two passengers and injuring 181 of the more than 300 people on board the Boeing 777 airliner.

According to a recent report by Bloomberg News, Asiana Airlines may attempt to use a provision in the Montreal Convention to keep Chinese and South Korean passengers on board the plane from filing lawsuits in U.S. courts, where it would be easier to get a victory and larger financial settlement than in their home countries. The company could argue that since their ultimate destination was their home countries, because they had round trip tickets, that should be where they are required to file lawsuits.

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Airplane Accident Lawsuits Likely

Even if the company is successful in blocking the 141 Chinese passengers and 77 South Korean passengers from filing lawsuits, there are still 61 passengers from the U.S. that could file a lawsuit over the Asiana airplane accident.

It appears increasingly likely that pilot error may have played a significant role in the crash, so the company is likely to face claims for negligence.

Preliminary reports from investigators have suggested that the plane was flying too slow and at too low an altitude to clear a sea wall at the end of the runway, which juts out into the water.

The flight crew reportedly tried to abort the landing and circle around again, but the tail of the plane clipped the sea wall and was torn off, sending the plane skidding across the runway.

Reports also indicate that this flight was the pilot’s first time flying a Boeing 777 and the flight crew included an instructor. Investigators have found no signs of mechanical failure, but caution that it is far too early to determine with any certainty what caused the crash.

Two 16-year-old Chinese girls were killed in the plane crash and numerous passengers were severely injured. Some reports suggest that one of the girls may have survived the initial crash only to be run over by an emergency response vehicle.

Prior to this recent accident, the last plane crash in the United States that resulted in fatalities was a Continental accident in Buffalo on February 12, 2009, involving a flight operated by Colgan Air. All 49 people onboard the flight were killed, plus one person on the ground, when the wings iced up shortly before landing, causing the plane to lose lift, stall and crash into a house.


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