A mother and son who were aboard Asiana Flight 214 have sued Asiana Airlines, blaming its flight crew for the crash-landing at San Francisco International Airport that killed three passengers and injured numerous others.
Younga Jun Machorro and her son, 8-year-old Benjamin Hyo-Ik Machorro, were among passengers who were "violently thrown about the cabin and suffer extreme and catastrophic injuries and emotional distress" in the July 6 crash, attorneys wrote in a suit filed Monday in U.S. District Court in San Francisco. Also named in the suit is the boy's father, Hector Machorro Jr., who was not on the flight but is claiming "loss of consortium" due to his wife and son's injuries.
The lawsuit faulted a "litany of errors and omissions" by the flight crew for the crash, claiming the pilots "failed to observe the most fundamental procedures for a visual landing approach into SFO, failed to appropriately monitor flight conditions on approach, and failed to communicate and react in the cockpit to those flight conditions." The suit seeks at least $5 million in damages.
Michael Verna, the family's attorney, said the crash was indicative of a problem in training and supervision rather than a onetime mistake.
"It is incomprehensible, really, that four pilots aboard didn't realize they were going 40 miles per hour slower than they were supposed to," he said. "That goes beyond one person making an error, that goes to a culture of how a crew communicates with one another inside the cockpit."
Younga, 41, had taken her son to visit relatives in her native Korea and was returning home when the plane crashed, Verna said. She and her son were seated in 15E and 15G when the flight hit a sea wall and tore across the runway, the impact shearing off the tail of the aircraft.
She does not remember getting off the plane – her first memory is of clutching her son on the tarmac, Verna said.
They were taken to San Francisco General Hospital, where they were treated for neck and back pain with possible ligament or tendon injuries. Neither suffered fractures, but are in braces, according to Verna. Younga is unable to sit, stand or drive because of the pain, and has been unable to return to her job as a language instructor for the military, the attorney said.
Also this week, a Chicago firm filed papers in an Illinois court on behalf of 30 passengers seeking evidence from Boeing about the design and manufacture of the aircraft. Attorneys at the firm, Ribbeck Law Chartered, said they had been retained by more than 80 passengers and that they were planning to sue Boeing, Asiana and other parts manufacturers in the coming weeks.
Lawsuits against airlines are governed by the Montreal Convention, to which the U.S. is a signatory. Under the convention, only American residents with round-trip tickets originating in the U.S. can sue the airline in courts here, Verna said.
Foreign residents, while they would need to seek claims against the airline in their home countries, can still seek damages against manufacturers or other liable parties in American courts, he said.