Yemenia Airlines Case Stays in US

The Yemenia Airline flight that crashed near Moroni three years ago didn't involve an aircraft built in the U.S. The flight had no Americans on board, and no part of the flight was through U.S. airspace.

The families filed suit in California against International Lease Finance Corporation (ILFC), the Los Angeles company that had leased the accident aircraft to Yemenia Airlines.  Not surprisingly, ILFC asked the court to move the case to France, arguing that the crash happened closest to French territory, many of the passengers had ties to France, and it made little sense to try the case here.  This month, the court denied that request, meaning that the suit can proceed in the United States.

Of course, the families would prefer the suit to stay in the U.S.  As discussed here, they have a better chance of obtaining meaningful compensation for their loss here than elsewhere.

The families sued  on the theory of "negligent entrustment."  In short, they alleged that ILFC should never have leased the accident aircraft to Yemenia Airlines because it knew that Yemenia Air was not competent to operate it safely.  Given that Yemenia Airlines had been banned from operating in European Union airspace due to various safety violations, those charges seem solid.

ILFC's request to boot the case from the U.S. courts was a big hurdle for the families.  In similar cases, courts have dismissed the families' lawsuits.  Here, though, the court ruled that it wouldn't be fair to make the families sue the U.S. company in France because, if they won, it isn't clear how they would enforce a French judgment against the U.S. company.  


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Richard Wyeroski - August 29, 2012 5:15 AM

Makes one wonder about the Brazilian crash in 2006. Pilot error was a contributing factor, however most of the blame was on Brazil's ATC system.

Recently the FAA signed an agreement with Brazil offering them assistance to the tune of 200,000,000 to fix the problems with their ATC system.

Could this be pay back to Brazil for this crash that took the lives of 154 of their citizens?

It is interesting that this case did not stay in the United States.

Who is really responsible for this crash.

Richard Wyeroski, former FAA Safety Inspector

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