It's official, the acceptable amount of time to wait after a tragedy before you can cash in on people's misery is now only a little over two weeks. Even though it's been less than a week since the passengers and crew of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 were declared dead, even though recovery crews are still combing the Indian Ocean on a daily basis (because they still haven't found anything), and even though no one is quite certain what exactly happened on the plane, that hasn't stopped a Chicago law firm from filing a suit against Malaysia Airlines on behalf of the families of the deceased.
Acting under a guise of benevolence, the attorneys at Ribbeck Law Chartered (which bills itself on its web site as "Aviation Accident" and "Airplane Crash" lawyers) filed a $1.5 billion lawsuit in a Cook County courthouse in Illinois, saying that the firm is prepared (and expects) to be handling more than half of the passengers on Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.
Monica Kelly, head of Global Aviation Litigation at Ribbeck Law, said at the time, "Our theory of the case is that there was a failure of the equipment in the cockpit that may have caused a fire that rendered the crew unconscious, or perhaps because of the defects in the fuselage which had been reported before there was some loss in the cabin pressure that also made the pilot and co-pilot unconscious."
As of this post, there is absolutely zero conclusive evidence that would indicate that a mechanical malfunction was to blame for the tragedy aboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.
This isn't the first time that Ribbeck Law has found itself in the news in the last year. It's not even the first time they've gone after Boeing for supposed equipment failures. Eight months ago, after an Asiana Airlines plane crashed in San Francisco, Ribbeck Law went after the both the airline and Boeing on the basis that the plane had faulty mechanics, even though the National Transportation and Safety Board assured the public that there had been no indication of mechanical failure.
Even more suspicious was the NTSB's claim that members of Ribbeck Law Chartered violated U.S. law by soliciting "of air disaster victims in the first 45 days after an accident". So, apparently there is a rule against being a money-grubbing opportunist. Who knew?
In response to the suit, one anonymous Malaysia Airlines employee was calm, saying, "We will face this lawsuit when it comes." She added, "I have not heard of relatives of Malaysian passengers and crew talking about a lawsuit, but that is their right if they want to sue us."
Even if the suit does make it to court (or to a settlement), the odds are good that it won't exactly put Boeing out of business. On the other hand, the results of a trial could be devastating to Malaysia Airlines, which is already dealing with cancelled tickets and general outrage in the aftermath of the loss of flight MH370. The impact on Malaysia's tourism industry is expected to be noticeable.
In the meantime, however, in the absence of any real information, Ribbeck Law Chartered will continue to pursue financial damages in this case. You know, because you gotta get that skrilla.