I do not pretend to understand a lot of things that happen in the USA, but how on Earth can this happen?
US Jury Blames Rudder, Not Pilot For 1997 Silkair Crash.
Business Times - 09 Jul 2004
SilkAir crash: US firm told to pay US$44m
Los Angeles Superior Court jury says defects in rudder control system caused the crash
(LOS ANGELES) Parker Hannifin Corp, the world's largest maker of hydraulic equipment, was told by a Los Angeles jury to pay US$43.6 million to the families of three people killed in a 1997 crash of a SilkAir Pte plane in Indonesia.
The Los Angeles Superior Court jury on Tuesday determined that defects in a rudder control system caused the Boeing Co 737 to plunge from 35,000 feet, killing all 104 people aboard.
The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) concluded that there were no mechanical defects and the pilot intentionally caused the crash.
'We are incredulous,' said Lorrie Paul Crum, a spokeswoman for Cleveland-based Parker Hannifin, who said the company will appeal. 'This is the best case for tort reform I've seen yet.'
The jury assigned the entire responsibility for the crash to Parker Hannifin, rejecting the option of apportioning any fault to SilkAir or Boeing, which manufactured the 10-month-old 737. Parker Hannifin was the only defendant.
Boeing had settled earlier and SilkAir had paid about US$100,000 to each family under the Warsaw Convention, which limits airlines' liability in international accidents, said Walter Lack, a lawyer for the families.
The case was the first US trial over the crash of SilkAir Flight 135, Mr Lack said. The trial established Parker Hannifin's liability and relatives of about 30 other people will now go to trial in the same Los Angeles court to determine how much Parker Hannifin owes them in damages, he said.
'This is just the tip of the iceberg,' Mr Lack said. Another 40 cases are pending in federal court in Seattle, he said.
SilkAir is Singapore Airline Ltd's regional unit, serving mainly tourists travelling to Asian destinations. SilkAir Flight 135 was travelling to Singapore from Jakarta when it crashed in December 1997.
The NTSB said in a December 2000 letter to the Indonesian National Transportation Safety Committee that 'no airplane- related mechanical malfunctions or failures caused or contributed to the accident' and the evidence indicates the crash was caused by 'intentional pilot action'. The Indonesian safety agency gave no official reason for the crash.
The US agency investigates major international accidents involving US air carriers or US manufactured jets. NTSB reports can't be used as evidence at trial under federal law, Ms Crum said. Mr Lack said factual statements from NTSB reports can be used, while conclusions and recommendations are barred by the law.
Parker Hannifin intends to challenge that statute in its appeal as well as seek a legislative remedy, Ms Crum said. The verdict won't affect Parker Hannifin's earnings because the company is covered by insurance, she added.
The case was brought by the families of Soen Lay Heng, 46, a Singapore resident who specialised in security printing; Merleen Tan Peck Jiang, 26, a Singapore resident who worked as a computer consultant; and Kenneth George Wilson, 44, a Scottish citizen living in Indonesia.
The trial before Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Emilie Elias lasted six weeks. The jury deliberated for four days before delivering its unanimous verdict on all questions, Mr Lack said. - Bloomberg
There was much discussion in our part of the World after this incident, and it was considered opinion that the Pilot commited suicide and purposely crashed the Aircraft.
The NTSB later proved that there was nothing mechanically wrong with the Aircraft, and yet this US "jury" of ordinary citizens, after not being allowed to see the expert evidence, decides the complete opposite.
How on Earth can this happen? [img]/forum/images/graemlins/confused.gif[/img] [img]/forum/images/graemlins/frown.gif[/img]