View Full Version : SIA paves way to settle SQ006 US lawsuits out of court

8th May 2003, 21:54

Got this in this morning's mail.A good development .




May 8 2003

SIA paves way to settle SQ006 US lawsuits out of court

Saying it's in best interests of everyone, it gives up chance to use a legal argument in its defence against the 90-odd plaintiffs

By Goh Chin Lian

SINGAPORE Airlines (SIA), which is trying to avoid a lengthy and costly legal battle over the SQ006 crash, is taking steps to settle the matter out of court in the United States.

It filed a motion in Los Angeles courts last week to give up the chance to use an argument from aviation laws in its defence against the 90 or so people who are suing it in the US.

Based on that particular law, SIA would have been able to argue that it had taken all the necessary measures to avoid the accident and was not at fault.

Explaining its move, an SIA spokesman told The Straits Times: 'It's in the best interests of everyone.'

The various parties can now negotiate without worrying about possible defences that the carrier could raise, he added.

But the Chicago-based Nolan Law Group, which is representing 41 of the people who are suing SIA, said the airline should have dropped the argument when the crash happened on Oct 31, 2000.

Mr Thomas Ellis, the group's director of litigation support, told The
Straits Times last night: 'The relatives are not going to see this as a gracious move on the part of SIA. If it was gracious, it should have done so in October 2000.

'We've spent 2 1/2 years to show that SIA didn't take all the necessary measures. They've wasted the court and the victims' time.'

He believes SIA's concession is a 'tactical' move to 'avoid the issue of liability and wrongdoing to be heard by a jury in the US'.

Under the Warsaw Convention, the airline would be liable for at least 100,000 Special Drawing Rights per passenger, which works out to about US$150,000 (S$262,000).

Eighty-three of the 179 passengers and crew died in the crash when the Los Angeles-bound Boeing tried to take off from a closed runway at Taipei's Chiang Kai-shek Airport.

SIA offered US$400,000 compensation to every passenger and crew member killed, and US$20,000 for survivors. Those who found the payout inadequate sued.

Both sides' American lawyers will meet before the judge, probably next week, to determine the schedule.

The trial is still set to be held in September.

Singapore lawyer Subhas Anandan, whose brother died in the crash and who is represented by Nolan, is not surprised SIA is trying to negotiate a settlement.

He said: 'There's normally a lot of negotiation in civil suits. It wouldn't be in SIA's interest to have a long-drawn trial. In the end, common sense will prevail.'

Meanwhile, the three SQ006 pilots have yet to regain their flying licences, even though the authorities here said last October that they did not break any rules that justified a further suspension.

One left SIA in March this year; the services of the other two were
terminated last July.