Shortly after the crash of Malaysia Flight MH 370, Monica Kelly of the Ribbeck Law Firm announced that her firm was filing litigation in Chicago seeking to preserve evidence and identify other possible defendants who might be involved in the missing Boeing’s manufacture and upkeep. The filing generated quite a bit of fanfare and media coverage for the Ribbeck Law Firm and, at the time, the firm said that it expected to represent families of more than 50 percent of the passengers on board.
But the filing hasn’t turned out so well. The judge has now tossed it out of court, ruling that it was improper and should never have been brought. Further, she noted that she has tossed out previous petitions improperly filed by Ribbeck, so the firm should know better. According to the Chicago Tribune, the judge was not amused:
Ribbeck Law had filed virtually identical petitions last year after separate fatal airplane crashes in San Francisco and Laos, and [Judge Flanagan] had dismissed both for the same reason.
“Despite these orders, the same law firm has proceeded, yet again, with the filing of the (Malaysia crash) petition, knowing full well there is no basis to do so,” Flanagan wrote.
The judge said she “will impose sanctions” if Ribbeck Law continues to make such filings.
According to another article in the Tribune, Ribbeck and Kelly have been in trouble before:
Last year, after the Asiana crash, the National Transportation Safety Board recommended that Illinois regulators investigate the firm over allegations its attorneys violated U.S. law barring uninvited solicitation of air crash victims in the first 45 days after a crash. . .
In 2008, Kelly's brother and partner in the firm, Manuel von Ribbeck, was cited while working for another firm he allegedly posed as a Red Cross worker when he approached a man who'd lost his wife and daughter in a plane crash in the Bahamas. . .
Kelly was recommended for censure last month for allegedly continuing to try to represent a survivor of a 2009 Turkish Airlines crash in the Netherlands that killed nine passengers and crew. The survivor had sent a letter terminating the relationship, records show.
It seems Ribbeck's problems are not limited to aviation cases:
On March 20, von Ribbeck was found in civil contempt of court after he failed to set up an escrow account for child support as ordered by the judge overseeing a 2009 paternity suit filed against him in Cook County, court records show.
In the order, Judge Lionel Jean Baptiste said von Ribbeck must show up in court April 14 and pay $17,000, or a warrant could be issued for his arrest. . .
April 16 Update: For more, see Christine Negroni's post "Flim Flam and Shenanigans"