Boeing has been hit with a flurry of lawsuits in Cook County court from family members and estate representatives for passengers aboard Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, asserting, while no one has yet learned why or even where the aircraft crashed after it disappeared over the Indian Ocean two years ago, the aircraft manufacturer should be held accountable for the presumed deaths of those on board the ill-fated flight.
On March 2, lawyers from The Hays Firm LLC, of Chicago, filed 28 lawsuits in Cook County Circuit Court against Chicago-based Boeing on behalf of the estates of some of the 239 people believed to have been on board the aircraft when it departed Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia on March 7, 2014. Plaintiffs in those lawsuits included 22 family and estate representatives of citizens of China, five from India and American citizen Phillip Talmadge Wood, of Texas.
Those 28 lawsuits were joined a day later by a lawsuit brought by the Wisner Law Firm, of suburban Geneva, on behalf of plaintiffs Danica Weeks, Erny Masila Mustafa, Marojahan Simanjuntak, Yvonne Tianyun Li and Emma Tianwen Li, who also lost family on the flight.
The Chicago court actions come concurrently with a number of legal actions launched in courts in China and Malaysia by families seeking payment from those they believe should be held responsible for the missing aircraft.
The Chicago lawsuits alleged defects or other problems with the Boeing 777 aircraft caused the airliner to crash and their relatives and loved ones to die.
The flight, dubbed MH370, which was scheduled to fly from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, disappeared not long after takeoff, when it veered off course and stopped responding to calls from the ground before vanishing, seemingly without a trace. An Australian-led search and recovery mission has swept tens of thousands of miles of ocean since, but has yet confirmed finding just one piece of the airliner, which washed up on the island of Reunion in the South Indian Ocean.
However, the Chicago lawsuits alleged the investigation to date has led the plaintiffs to be able to rule out “pilot error, pilot suicide, terrorism or other foul play, maintenance error and weather … as reasonable causes” of the airliner’s disappearance.
For instance, the lawsuits filed on behalf of plaintiffs represented by the Hays Firm noted no one reported or seemed to observe any abnormal or erratic behavior from the pilot or first officer, or any problems with the flight crew. And the complaints noted no terrorist group has attempted to claim credit for downing MH370, and the aircraft continued to fly for six hours after losing contact with the ground, a fact the lawsuits said “is powerful evidence that the disappearance resulted, not from terrorism or other foul play, but from a product defect that caused a malfunction onboard the plane.”
“Even though the Boeing Airplane has not, as of the filing of this complaint, been found, a reasonable inference that can be drawn from all of the available evidence is that the disappearance of Flight MH370 was the result of one or more defects in the manufacture and/or design of the Boeing Airplane,” the lawsuits filed by the Hays Firm said.
The lawsuits cited a report from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau which, they said, indicated “the most likely cause of the disappearance and crash of Flight MH370 was a massive and cascading sequence of electrical failures onboard the Boeing Airplane.”
“According to the Australian Report’s findings, this sequence of electrical failures disabled vital systems … making it impossible for the crew to navigate the Boeing Airplane or for the Boeing Airplane to communicate with ground stations,” the lawsuits said. “This inability to control the Boeing Airplane or to communicate with ground stations explains why the Boeing Airplane traveled for so long, in the wrong direction, and without any capacity to send or receive signals.”
The lawsuits demanded jury trials and unspecified “money judgment” against Boeing.