Boeing sued in Charleston over Malaysia Airlines 777 disappearance
By John McDermott, The Post and Courier
A South Carolina representative of the families of 44 passengers presumed killed when Malaysia Airlines flight 370 vanished three years ago is suing Boeing Co., alleging manufacturing defects may have doomed the missing jetliner.
The case was filed in U.S. District Court in Charleston by Berkeley County resident Gregory D. Keith. He is seeking a jury trial and unspecified damages of more than $75,000 and reimbursement of various expenses.
The lawsuit alleges that manufacturing defects in the Boeing-made 777 led to "a massive and cascading sequence of electrical failures" that disabled critical onboard systems and made it "impossible for the crew to navigate the plane or for the plane to communicate with ground stations" before running out of fuel and crashing into the Indian Ocean on March 8, 2014.
The jet was flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 passengers and crew members on board.
While some wreckage has been recovered over the past three years, the location of the 777 has never been determined. The 3-million-square-mile multinational search, described as the largest and costliest in aviation history, was suspended Jan. 17.
"The loss and inability to find the plane is substantially the result of Boeing’s decision not to equip the lost plane with readily available and reasonable alternative technologies that would have permitted the lost plane’s precise location to be tracked in real-time anywhere on the planet," according to the lawsuit.
The complaint said Keith is "the Special Administrator for all surviving family" and the estates of 44 passengers, who were mostly Chinese citizens. Three of them lived in the U.S.
Keith, a partner with a downtown Charleston law firm, said Tuesday he could not comment about the complaint dated March 4.
He is represented by Mount Pleasant law firm Motley Rice, including attorney Mary Schiavo, a former inspector general at the U.S. Department of Transportation and an aviation analyst for CNN. The law firm said Schiavo and another lawyer involved in the complaint were not available to comment Tuesday.
The lawsuit was filed in South Carolina partly because Boeing has major business operations in the state. The company builds the 787 Dreamliner and supports other aircraft programs from several locations in North Charleston.
"As a general rule, Boeing does not comment on litigation. Our thoughts continue to be with the families, friends and colleagues of those on board Malaysia Airlines flight 370," the company said in a written statement Tuesday.
The lawsuit has been assigned to Judge Michael Duffy. No hearings have been scheduled.