SIA seeks out-of-court settlement

SINGAPORE Airlines (SIA), which is trying to avoid a lengthy and costly legal battle over the SQ006 crash, is taking steps to settle the matter out of court in the United States. 

It filed a motion in Los Angeles courts last week to give up the chance to use an argument from aviation laws in its defence against the 90 or so people who are suing it in the United States. 

Based on that particular law, SIA would have been able to argue that it had taken all the necessary measures to avoid the accident and was not at fault.  

Explaining its move, an SIA spokesman told The Straits Times: “It’s in the best interests of everyone.”  

The various parties can now negotiate without worrying about possible defences that the carrier could raise, he added. 

But the Chicago-based Nolan Law Group, which is representing 41 of the people who are suing SIA, said the airline should have dropped the argument when the crash happened on Oct 31, 2000. 

Thomas Ellis, the group’s director of litigation support, told The Straits Times:  

“We’ve spent 2½ years to show that SIA didn’t take all the necessary measures. They’ve wasted the court and the victims’ time.” 

Eighty-three of the 179 passengers and crew died in the crash when the Los Angeles-bound Boeing tried to take off from a closed runway at Taipei’s Chiang Kai-shek Airport. 

SIA offered US$400,000 compensation to every passenger and crew member killed, and US$20,000 for survivors. Those who found the payout inadequate sued. – The Straits Times/Asia News Network  

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