Aeromexico Files Suit in Cerritos Disaster

From United Press International

Aeromexico filed a $20-million lawsuit Wednesday against the United States in Los Angeles federal court, saying the Federal Aviation Administration is responsible for last year’s disastrous collision over Cerritos because it failed to keep the two planes apart.

Rod D. Margo, one of the airline’s attorneys, said Aeromexico has filed a series of similar cross-claims against the United States in response to each lawsuit against it over the crash.

All the Aeromexico lawsuits, currently numbering at least 36, are scheduled for trial before U.S. District Judge David V. Kenyon in September, 1988. Most name Aeromexico as a defendant. Some also include the estate of William Kramer, the pilot of the Piper Cherokee Archer that collided with the DC-9 jetliner, and the FAA.


Other suits also name Roland Furman, the pilot of another small plane that allegedly strayed into the jetliner’s airspace and who might have distracted air traffic controller William White, who was monitoring the jetliner. White is also named in some suits.

The Aug. 31, 1986, crash killed a total of 82 people aboard both aircraft and in the residential neighborhood where the airliner crashed.

Meanwhile, Kenyon ruled Wednesday that all lawsuits filed so far against Aeromexico resulting from the Cerritos disaster must be heard by a judge, rather than a jury.

Kenyon ruled a provision in the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976 that requires claims against a foreign state be heard by a judge applies to Aeromexico because more than half of the airline’s stock is owned by the Mexican government.

Kenyon, who is presiding over all the suits in a single, consolidated action, made a similar ruling in February in one of the many cases filed against Aeromexico. Wednesday’s order expands the earlier decision to all the cases filed so far against the airline.

Several attorneys in the complex litigation said the individual cases could conceivably be decided separately if other defendants demand jury trials. But they said Kenyon’s ruling makes it more likely that he will preside over the entire case without a jury.