Oct 31, 2014 12:25 AM
Malaysia Airlines sued by 2 boys over Flight 370
The Associated Press
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) Two Malaysian children sued Malaysia Airlines and the government on Friday over the loss of their father on Flight 370, the first lawsuit filed in the country by relatives of those aboard the jetliner that mysteriously disappeared eight months ago.
Jee Kinson, 13, and Jee Kinland, 11, accused the civil aviation department of negligence for failing to try and contact the plane within in reasonable time after it dropped from the radar while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8 with 239 people on board.
The suit filed at the Kuala Lumpur High Court alleges the airline was negligent and failed to take all due measures to ensure a safe flight. It also named the director-generals of civil aviation and immigration, the country's air force chief and the government as respondents and alleged they committed gross neglect and breach of duty.
"We have waited for eight months. After speaking to various experts, we believe we have sufficient evidence for a strong case. A big plane missing in this age of technology is really unacceptable," their lawyer Arunan Selvaraj said.
The boys are seeking damages for mental distress, emotional pain and the loss of support following the disappearance of their father, Jee Jing Hang. He operated an Internet business earning monthly income of nearly 17,000 ringgit ($5,200).
Selvaraj said it was "up to the court" to determine the amount of any damages to award.
"The question is, could we have salvaged the situation if action was taken earlier?" Selvaraj said. "We want accountability."
Nearly two-thirds of the passengers were from China. Attorneys from law firms with experience in plane disasters have approached many of them, but it's unclear whether any others have sued or are preparing to do so. The fact the plane has not been found will make assigning blame for the incident difficult.
Aviation lawyer Jeremy Joseph said the boys certainly have a case for the authorities to answer in court but it won't be easy.
"It's going to be quite challenging as the plane has not been recovered. Without knowing the cause of the incident, it's all very speculative," he said.
Joseph said Malaysian civil courts aren't likely to give big payouts. In the case of the airline, he said the court could likely follow the compensation amount of $175,000 set under the Montreal Convention. For the other respondents, he said it is an unprecedented case and would depend on the evidence given in court and culpability of the parties.
The plane is believed to have gone down in a remote patch of the Indian Ocean, where a search is ongoing. Not a single piece of debris from the plane has been found so far. Australian officials, who are coordinating the search, have said the hunt for the plane could take another year.