2004-09-17 / Front Page

New York Law Firm Denies Der Spiegel Report ‘Never Spoke With German Mag, Will Not Confront Airbus’

By Howard Schwach

A perplexed attorney for a New York City law firm that is the lead representative for the families of the victims of American Airlines Flight 587 told The Wave on Monday that the firm was never contacted by a German magazine writer for comment on a story that the firm planned to “confront Airbus with serious accusations when the damage suit on behalf of the victims of American Airlines Flight 587 is reinstitued on September 15.”

“Nobody at this firm was ever contacted for the story, nor was anybody interviewed,” says Blanca Rodriquez, the attorney who is the liaison between the law firms handling the case and the families of the victims.

Rodriquez said, in fact, that she had never seen the story and asked that The Wave fax our copy along with a translation that the newspaper commissioned.

After reading the story and the translations, a confused Rodriquez contacted The Wave.

“We really know nothing about this,” she said with a laugh. “We are holding a normal status conference with Judge Sweet on September 15, and we are going to ask to go back to discovery for those victims whose families chose not to enter into a settlement.”

“The case does not need to be reinstitued,” as the magazine says, she added, “because it was never ended.”

The Der Spiegel story came to light on September 8, when a copy was faxed to The Wave by the author.

The story said that Airbus Industries was implicated in falsifying the reports of its tests on the A300-600 aircraft prior to its certification, knowing that the rudder would not stand up to high loads in a wave turbulence event – the same type of event that experts say brought down American Airlines Flight 587, an Airbus A300-600.

In an attempt to insure that the article did in fact come from the German magazine, The Wave went onto its Website last week and checked that the story had been published. When the article was found on the website, we then had the article translated and an editor contacted both the author, Ulrich Jaeger, and Airbus Industries for comment.

There was an attempt to contact Rodriquez at Kriendler and Kriendler as well, but she was out of the office and unavailable for comment at that time.

The author’s comments as well as Airbus Industrie’s comments were in last week’s story.

Due to an error in translation, The Wave said in its story that the memo detailing the testing was an internal Airbus memo when, in fact, Jaeger says, “It is a memo set up by counsel and distributed among counsel.”

“That memo reportedly accuses Airbus of possible wrongdoing and manipulation of the calculation of the vertical stabilizer,” Jaeger said.

John David, the Deputy Chairman of the National Safety Committee for the Allied Pilots Association is interested in the memo as well.

David contacted The Wave for a copy of the Der Spiegel article.

We provided David with the article and the translation, and he told The Wave that he found it interesting in light of some of his own investigation into the crash of AA 587.

“I called the board [NTSB] and asked if the FBI was investigating the crash,” he said. “They told me that they could not comment on FBI involvement, but the fact that they may be doing a criminal investigation rather than a terrorist investigation makes all the sense in the world.”

David said that Judge Robert Sweet, who is hearing all of the AA 587 cases, has sealed a deposition from a man named Thurnegal, who is reportedly an engineer at Airbus in Germany.

“The man’s deposition is supposed to be fairly damaging to Airbus,” David said. “It would make sense if that deposition is what the De Spiegel article is talking about.”

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