Your Ally
In Complex Litigation And Transactions

The Asiana Flight 214 Lawsuit

Bowles & Verna LLP was the first law firm to file suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California against Asiana Airlines in the Asiana Flight 214 crash for a reason: We are the preeminent plaintiffs’ international aviation litigation firm in Northern California and know the local San Francisco courts and judges intimately.

We have generated over $150 million in verdicts and settlements for our clients in commercial and private aviation cases over the last several years and have been leading attorneys for the victims in virtually every major international aviation crash in recent memory. Michael P. Verna, head of the aviation department, is a recognized expert in this area of law, and is routinely listed as one of the Best Lawyers in America in plaintiff personal injury litigation and by Super Lawyers Magazine as a top trial lawyer. He has also been board certified as a Civil Trial and Pre-Trial Advocate since 1986 and was elected to membership by the American Board of Trial Advocates 14 years ago.

Though the tragic facts leading to the Asiana Flight 214 crash appear rather straightforward, the legal issues are quite complicated. Because this was an international flight to San Francisco by a Korean-based airline, the international treaty known as the Montreal Convention will apply to passenger claims against Asiana. Under that treaty, Asiana is absolutely liable for any passenger damages up to the equivalent of approximately US$170,000, and liable for damages above that if it cannot prove that it was not negligent or that the accident was caused by the sole negligence of another party. In this case, it will be next to impossible for Asiana to prove that it has no responsibility for this crash, so in effect, it will be liable for the full extent of any passenger’s provable damages.

The nature, scope, and damage value of any passenger’s claim will of course be hotly contested by Asiana’s insurers. However, not all passengers may have the same rights to sue Asiana in San Francisco Federal Court. While American residents can sue Asiana Airlines in the U.S., Korean, Chinese, and other non-American residents who held round trip tickets back to Seoul or Shanghai may only be able to sue Asiana in Korea or China under the Montreal Convention at any point up to two years after the accident. But this does not mean that non-Americans do not have access to U.S. courts to seek redress. The Convention only applies between passengers and Asiana Airlines, so there is no jurisdictional prohibition against filing suit against Boeing or some other culpable third party in San Francisco Federal Court and deferring any direct action against Asiana in Korean or Chinese courts until July of 2015.

The benefits to U.S. courts are many. First, passengers can perform their own investigation under the auspices of a U.S. Districtr Court by issuing subpoenas to compel parties to produce documents and forcing the pilots and other witnesses to sit for questioning. This is important as the passengers have no input into the NTSB investigation and the final NTSB report is likely not admissible in the court proceedings anyway. Second, the responsible parties can be held accountable by the court and a jury for causing this crash, which could well lead to changes in crew training and cockpit design that minimize the chances of an accident like this occurring ever again. And third, the potential monetary recovery for passengers is far greater in U.S. courts than in Korean courts, and the process far more expedient.

Bowles & Verna LLP charges for its services on a percentage, contingency fee and advances all costs of litigation, and is paid only when the case settles or the defendant pays a verdict. This means no out-of-pocket expenses are incurred by the victims. If there is no recovery, then no fees or cost reimbursements are due to the firm. Bowles & Verna LLP has associated with Korean and Chinese law firms to assist on legal issues, but all costs of that counsel are included in the contingency fee. For further information, contact us at 925-478-5763.

Helpful Links

Recent Developments/News