lol what!? How do they know if the auto throttle failure was due to a design flaw or poor maintenance to sue Boeing for this?
OEMs always get sued when an aircraft they constructed crashes. Every time, regardless of the cause.
Suing before the investigation is completed is a little premature however.
As a lawyer working on contingency, as these guys are, there's a benefit to being the first-to-file. So they do it as soon as they have signed up one or more clients. The claim is legally-ripe as soon as a plaintiff is harmed. It doesn't take much to sketch out an allegation of facts from the newspaper, which can be revised down the line, along with traditional allegations of negligence, lack of fitness for a particular use, and whatever legal theories they can come up with under US law, probably not even waiting for an analysis of the law of the jurisdiction in which the victims lived. That latter bit is important, because many states will want to apply the law of the jurisdiction in which the harm was felt, which in a suit for damages is usually where the victims lived. So, often, they'll look for a "harmed" relative in the US.
Lawyers will also try to file in a friendly jurisdiction. I once defended one of many parties in a large, multi-defendant personal injury case in a tiny Texas town, the county seat of a jurisdiction where the juries were known for their high verdicts, and the Plaintiffs' Lawyers had hired the District Attorney as their local counsel (which was permitted in Texas then). The judge wasn't a bad guy by any means, but he overtly favored holding onto the case in its current form -- it was a big one which was getting noticed. We moved to dismiss on the basis that the lawyers really had no business lumping this particular group of plaintiffs together in an effort to shoehorn them all into a single case in this very-favorable jurisdiction, rather than where they really should have sued. It was a technical issue, but an important one, and we destroyed the plaintiffs' lawyers in a multi-day hearing. Just dismembered them and embarrassed them by making crystal clear what the absolutely-inarguable law was that controlled the matter, to the point that the judge was red-faced and glaring at them because they had handed him this giant poop sandwich to swallow. This was 100-percent going to be reversed on appeal if the judge held onto it. When we were done, he said, "Well, I'm sure y'all are right on the law but I'm going to keep the case here." He was willing to eat it. Why? Because he knew that we wouldn't be able to appeal this ruling until AFTER the case went to trial, and it's not much consolation for our clients that they have a strong appeal if a trial jury hands down a $1 Billion dollar judgment against them. The judge ate the sandwich because he knew that the case would now be positioned to settle for a lot of money and never go to trial -- because the clients and their insurers couldn't take the risk. And nobody would probably ever call him out about what he had done. Certainly no appellate court would be likely ever to evaluate his decision. He was mad as a hornet, however, and we at least had the satisfaction of making him face himself in the morning by making a point to get everything on the record, which he really didn't want to do either. The hope was maybe he would be forced to do the right thing. One of my co-counsel told him, "Judge, if I'm gonna get bent over, I want it on the record." Lovely.
So it is likely that whatever law firm was first to file, they did it in a jurisdiction where the court wouldn't be likely to dismiss over something as technical as applying the correct law, and in a state where there would be no appeal of that decision until after the trial.
Last edited by wjcandee
on Sun Jan 24, 2021 2:27 am, edited 1 time in total.