Lawsuit filed over Nigerian plane crash

2012-06-08 08:08

Chicago - A man whose wife died when a Nigerian commercial airliner crashed into a crowded neighbourhood in that country's largest city filed a lawsuit in the United States on Thursday that blames the accident, at least in part, on US companies that designed, manufactured and sold the ill-fated plane.

An American attorney filed the lawsuit in US District Court in Chicago on behalf of David Chukwunonso Allison, whose wife, Joy Chiedozie Allison, was on the Dana Air MD-83 that went down in the African nation on Sunday afternoon. The crash killed 153 people who were on the plane and an undetermined number of people on the ground.

Among those named in the 56-page lawsuit are Chicago-based Boeing Company, which bought the McDonnell-Douglas manufacturer of the plane, and Connecticut-based engine-maker Pratt & Whitney.

Gary Robb, a Kansas City, Missouri-based aviation attorney who filed the lawsuit for David Allison, said reports of engine failure as the plane approached Lagosm point to the companies' culpability.

Nigeria's Aviation Minister Stella Oduah said on Wednesday that the flight's captain radioed Lagos as the aircraft approached and declared an emergency, saying both of the MD-83's engines had failed. Minutes later, the plane crashed into several buildings.

"That is always incredibly significant information," Robb said. "Engines do not fail unless something goes dramatically wrong."

Without offering details, the suit claims the Pratt & Whitney "engines used a defective and unreasonably dangerous design".

A Thursday statement from Pratt & Whitney responding to the lawsuit didn't address any specific allegations but said "our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of all those involved in this incident".

"Pratt & Whitney is co-operating fully with investigating authorities and we are unable to offer any further comment as the investigation is ongoing," the statement said.

Growing public criticism

A spokesperson for Boeing did not return several messages seeking comment on Thursday.

Joy Allison, who lived in Lagos with her husband and 1-year-old daughter, worked for a Federal Express office in her home city, Robb said. The lawsuit seeks damage payments, though an amount will be determined later.

Robb conceded that pinpointing a precise cause of the alleged engine failure would take time. But he said filing the suit now would help ensure he and his own investigators had legal recourse to request the plane's flight voice and data recorders, and other evidence.

Francis Ogboro, an executive who oversees Dana Air, defended the airline on Wednesday against growing public criticism, noting that its own chief engineer died on the doomed flight.

The MD-83 had undergone strenuous checks like the others the carrier owns and that he routinely flies, he told journalists.

The chief engineer "certainly would not have allowed that aircraft to take off" if there was a problem, Ogboro said. "No airline crew would go on a suicide mission."

Emergency officials on Wednesday stopped searching for those killed at the crash site in Iju-Ishaga, the Lagos neighborhood about 8km from Lagos' Murtala Muhammed International Airport.

Officials still aren't sure how many people died, and a complete death toll could take weeks. The plane smashed into two apartment buildings, a printing business and a woodshop.

Authorities have collected the flight voice and data recorders from the plane and plan to send them to the US for analysis. The US National Transportation Safety Board also has sent an investigator to assist Nigeria's Accident Investigation Board.

The State Department says nine Americans were among those killed.

  • winston.mullany - 2012-06-08 08:33

    Her body is not even cold and he already wants to sue, so much for the grieving a man would have for his wife. Something tells me his in it for the money. He is jumping the gun since the investigation hasn't even really started. Only in the States!

      lisa.a.bradshaw - 2012-06-08 08:42

      It's the lawyer who saw dollars and probably phoned him to say 'lets do it' American lawyers are shocking but if successful it might make air companies think twice about flying cheap or old aircraft!!!

      omonaija - 2012-06-08 08:52

      I have to agree with you there.He wants to get is cut before scramble begins.My father was the attorney who worked on the case of the 1991 Jeddah Air Crash.I remember how the families and Government officials were fighting over the money paid by the manufacturer and airline.

      tony.austin.9484 - 2012-06-08 11:22

      @Winston: what does her body staying hold? Would it bring her back? Old planes are flown and it's only good if those involved think twice before wrecking lives. @Omoniaja: your father being involved with Jedda case... So? Who cares!! Knowing crooked Nigerians well, of which your fake name suggests you are one, is your post a way to advertise to people to come seek your \expertise\? If you don't know what it is to lose loved ones just shut up!

      evon.nieman - 2012-06-08 11:28

      Not so much the husband as the Kansas attorney.

      tony.austin.9484 - 2012-06-08 12:33

      The plane was in the hangar for two years- due to several previous emergency landing and smoke in the cabin- in United States. It was not fit for flying American skies but sold to Nigerian local airline. Those involved (on the two sides) need answer for it. Google for it you will see facts on the issue.

  • Stille - 2012-06-08 09:02

    Can you say 419? Damn nigerians are worse than the anc here.

      victor.ejike.5 - 2012-06-08 14:26

      Are u stupid how can u say such do u know the reputation of some south africans in nigeria junkies and slut

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