Nine people who were passengers on the Asiana Airlines flight that crashed at San Francisco International Airport last month sued both the airline and the plane’s manufacturer, Boeing Co., in federal court in San Francisco today.
The passengers on the July 6 flight are Bay Area adults and children from three different families, and each family group filed a separate but identical lawsuit, prepared by attorney Frank Pitre of Burlingame.
The lawsuit accuses both Asiana, based in South Korea, and Boeing, headquartered in Chicago, of negligence.
The crash was “a byproduct of reckless inattention by the Asiana pilots in combination with dangerous shortcomings with auto flight modes and low airspeed warning systems incorporated into the Boeing aircraft,” the lawsuit alleges.
Three teenage Chinese schoolgirls died as a result of the crash and more than 180 passengers were injured when the low-flying Boeing 777 struck a seawall bordering San Francisco Bay and the tail section was separated from the aircraft’s fuselage.
The lawsuits claim Asiana was negligent in failing to train its pilots to operate the aircraft correctly and to evacuate the aircraft in a timely and safe way.
Boeing is alleged to have been negligent in failing to provide a safe and effective auto-throttle control system and low-speed-warning device, to train pilots in safe operation of the aircraft, and to provide safe seating, including proper seatbelts.
The lawsuit notes that as is common on commercial airliners, the 777 had lap belt and shoulder harnesses for business class passengers, but only lap belts for economy passengers.
“Had passengers in economy class safely been restrained by lap and shoulder harnesses, many injuries would have been prevented and/or mitigated,” the lawsuit contends.
Pitre said today, “I’m outraged that you’ve got safety that’s dependent on the type of ticket you buy.”
The attorney said the nine plaintiffs suffered both physical harm, including spinal, head, chest and rib injuries, and psychological trauma. The lawsuits seek financial compensation and punitive damages.
Pitre said he plans to file another federal lawsuit Friday on behalf of passengers in a fourth family.
The lawsuits also include claims of passenger liability against the airline and breach of warranty and strict liability against Boeing.
Spokespersons for Asiana and Boeing were not immediately available for comment today.
Two other lawsuits were previously filed against Asiana in federal court in San Francisco in July by a total of three passengers.
Pitre said he knows of one other lawsuit filed by a passenger against Boeing in Illinois state court in Chicago but said today’s lawsuits are the first he knows of that name both Asiana and Boeing as defendants.
He said he expects the federal cases in San Francisco, currently assigned to several different judges, to be transferred eventually to the court of a single judge for coordinated proceedings.
One of the families filing a lawsuit today includes Shuzhi Han, 72; her daughter Liman Qian; and her granddaughter Amanda Ma, all of San Francisco.
The other lawsuits were filed by Sun Hong Andrighetto, Robert Andrighetto and their daughter Angelina Andrighetto, and by Kazuhisa Yanagihara, Sophia Chan and their children Sabrina and Lucas Yanagihara.
Pitre said those two families live in the Bay Area.
Julia Cheever, Bay City News