Asiana Settlement Deal Leaves Many Cases Unresolved

By SUDHIN THANAWALA | March 5, 2015

The first set of lawsuits stemming from the crash of an Asiana Airlines flight in San Francisco two years ago have been settled, but dozens of additional cases remain after the accident that killed three Chinese teenagers and injured nearly 200 people.

The settlement with 72 passengers who filed personal injury claims includes the airline along with Boeing Co., which made the airplane, and Air Cruisers Co., the New Jersey company that made its evacuation slides.

A court filing Tuesday that disclosed the settlement did not include the financial terms, and plaintiffs’ attorney Frank Pitre said those details are confidential.

“This is the first positive step for these passengers to be able to get closure on a tragic, catastrophic crash and hopefully try to get their lives back together,” Pitre said.

Boeing spokesman Miles Kotay said the aircraft maker does not comment on pending litigation. Calls for comment to attorneys for Asiana and Air Cruisers were not immediately returned.

Asiana Flight 214 was traveling from South Korea on July 6, 2013, with 307 people on board when the Boeing 777 slammed into a sea wall at the end of a runway during approach to San Francisco International Airport. The impact ripped off the back of the plane, tossed out three flight attendants and their seats, and scattered pieces of the jet across the runway as it spun and skidded to a stop.

U.S. safety investigators blamed the pilots, saying they bungled the landing approach by inadvertently deactivating the plane’s key control for airspeed, among other errors.

But the National Transportation Safety Board also said the complexity of the Boeing 777’s auto-throttle and auto flight director – two of the plane’s key systems for controlling flight – contributed to the accident. The NTSB also faulted materials provided to airlines by Chicago-based Boeing, saying they fail to make clear the conditions in which the auto-throttle doesn’t automatically maintain speed.

Pitre said the passengers who settled had injuries that were less serious and have stabilized. At least 14 of the people with whom settlements were reached are minors, requiring the court to approve the agreements, according to Tuesday’s filing.

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