Families of the Asiana crash victims filed a whole flurry of lawsuits against airplane manufacturer Boeing this week, including a class action in Chicago, where Boeing's corporate headquarters are located, and three in San Francisco district court. Burlingame attorney Frank Pitre, who represents the Bay Area plaintiffs, says he's teeing up a fourth suit today to spurn the company for negligence, passenger liability, and breach of warranty.
He says that Boeing should have known how to properly outfit its planes in light of a similar wreck in 2009, when a Turkish 737 broke into three pieces after crash-landing in Amsterdam, killing 9 passengers. Evidently the company failed to profit from that teachable moment, Pitre says. Not only did Boeing bypass a Dutch Safety Board order to install aural command low-speed warnings in each of its 737 jets -- including the ill-fated Flight 214 -- it also dawdled on a host of other amenities.
According to Pitre's complaints, the Flight 214 aircraft came with a faulty auto-throttle control system, inadequate auto-throttle warnings, ineffective low-speed warnings, and rows of seats without shoulder belts. Add to that Asiana's spotty track record and the pilots' overall lack of training, and you had a disaster waiting to happen. Flight 214 and its crew amounted to a beat-up '79 Dodge masquerading as a Rolls Royce.
The suits demand compensatory damages without specifying a dollar amount -- though it could get pretty hefty as the evidence piles up. And the plaintiffs have a stout offense in Pitre. Right now he's also representing the City of Richmond in a lawsuit against Chevron.