2005-03-25 / Front Page

AA 587 Lawyers Seek To Reopen Discovery Process At 3/29 Hearing

By Howard Schwach


One of the memorials left at the crash site, the corner of Newport Avenue and Beach 131 Street by familes of those who died when American Airlines Flight 587 crashed into Belle Harbor on November 12, 2001. Many families have yet to settle with AA and Airbus.One of the memorials left at the crash site, the corner of Newport Avenue and Beach 131 Street by familes of those who died when American Airlines Flight 587 crashed into Belle Harbor on November 12, 2001. Many families have yet to settle with AA and Airbus. The team of lawyers representing the families of those who were killed or whose homes were destroyed in the crash of American Airlines Flight 587 on November 12, 2001 will soon ask Federal Justice Robert Sweet to reopen the discovery process to decide who was liable for the crash.

Robert Spragg, an attorney for Kriendler & Kriendler, the Manhattan firm that leads the plaintiff team, says that settlement discussions have bogged down and it is time to reopen the discovery process, which was stopped in order to give both American Airlines and Airbus Industries a chance to settle prior to going through the exhaustive and expensive process of discovery and trial.

A hearing was originally set for March 22, but was postponed until March 29 at the request of the defendants.

According to Spragg, 219 of the 265 death cases have been settled to date. Of those, only two of the five Rockaway cases have reached settlement.

Spragg says that those who had only property damage are still waiting for the defendants to speak with them.

“This is not going anywhere,” he told The Wave. “We have asked to begin settlement negotiations for those who lost their homes and we have been told by the defendants that they want to concentrate on the death cases before moving to property damage.”

Several of the 46 families that have not yet agreed to settlements have told The Wave that they will not settle because they believe that the only chance of finding out what really happened to cause the crash is at trial.

They mistrust the findings of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which issued a final report blaming the crash on Sten Molin, the plane’s first officer, who was flying the departure from John F. Kennedy Airport that day.

The report said that Molin “unnecessarily and over-aggressively” used the plane’s rudder, causing the tail to be ripped from the plane.

One family member, who asked not to be identified, said, “In the event the judge gives even more time to the enemy at the next hearing, I plan to write him a note asking if he realizes just how much pain and suffering he has caused by putting off the process.”

Should all of the families settle, the discovery process and trial would be permanently stilled, leaving the NTSB report as the final word concerning the cause of the crash, the second worst aviation disaster in United States History.

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