KUALA LUMPUR: Seventy-six next of kin of the passengers on board Flight MH370 have launched the biggest suit in the courts here against Malaysian Airline System Bhd and four others over the plane’s disappearance.
With the deadlines to do so up by today, the group made up of 66 Chinese nationals, eight Indians and two Americans filed the suit last Thursday, naming MAS, Malaysia Airline Bhd (MAB), Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) director-general, Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) and the Government as defendants.
They are claiming for negligence, breach of contract, breach of statutory duty and breach of Montreal Convention against MAS
Lawyer N.Ganesan representing Indian, Chinese and American families said this is the biggest lawsuit against MAS in Malaysia as it involves a large number of families as plaintiffs.
In the statement of claim filed last Thursday, the families alleged that the plane’s disappearance on 8 March 2014 was caused by MAS’ negligence and the national carrier had breached the Montreal Convention by causing the injuries and death of all 239 passengers and crew..
Besides MAS, the families also named the director-general of the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA), Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF), and the government.
They claimed that DCA, RMAF and the government had conspired with MAS in conducting the investigation in a “grossly negligent manner” to delay the search, causing the death of all the passengers and crew.
They also contended the government and MAS had acted fraudulently and in a dishonest manner by hiding information about MH370’s disappearance from the public, and the families of passengers and crew.
The 76 next of kin are seeking damages and losses they suffered after their loved ones went missing.
“The families opted to file the lawsuit here because they have confidence in our court,” said Ganesan when met at the High Court here.
He also pleaded with the government not to move to strike out the lawsuit.
“This lawsuit deserves a day in court, and all the families deserve a fair trial,” he said.
When asked if the families were given consent by the MAS administrator under the MAS Act to initiate the lawsuit, the lawyer said they were denied consent. “They had previously said in the media that they would act in ‘good faith’ to determine fair and equitable compensation.”
“What they said was they were inviting next of kin to initiate lawsuits against them.”
Ganesan disclosed that an American law firm, Hod Hurst Orseck, will be joining the families’ legal team.
“They are the experts in civil aviation. We will be having the firm’s partners, Steven Marks and Roy Altman with me and lawyer Tommy Thomas.”
“When necessary, we will be filing for leave to the court for them to be conducting the trial,” he said.
Last week, 12 families of passengers from Malaysia, Ukraine, Russia and China sued MAS and the government for damages, shortly before the two years deadline for initiating a civil suit under the Montreal Convention.
Sources: The Star news and Free Malaysia Today