In response to the first lawsuit stemming from the crash landing of Asiana Flight 214, the South Korean airliner denied responsibility and said passengers contributed to their own injuries — while at the same time quietly offering each one $10,000.
Asiana's denial of responsibility, made in a filing in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, is "standard stuff," said Gerald Sterns, an attorney with offices in Oakland and San Francisco who handles aviation cases but is not a party to any litigation related to the Asiana crash.
"A lot of people get inflamed by that: 'How could this airline say that?' " Sterns said. "The standard defenses are: 'It didn't happen. If it did happen, we didn't do it. If your guy got hurt, he caused his own injuries.' "
The new developments follow a series of public relations missteps by the South Korean airliner after its Boeing 777 crashed. Asiana's chief executive declined to speak to the South Korean and U.S. reporters who mobbed him when he landed at San Francisco International Airport, and no one spoke on his behalf.
Asiana officials did not respond to a request for comment on Monday and have previously said they will not address litigation surrounding the July 6 crash at San Francisco International Airport, which killed three Chinese teenage girls and injured dozens of others.
The legal issues surrounding the crash are complicated because the airline is based in South Korean and most of the passengers are not U.S. citizens. Nearly half, 141, came from China. The next largest group of passengers — 77 — were from South Korea.
An international treaty called the Montreal Convention restricts the ability of foreign passengers to sue Asiana in U.S. courts while American passengers could see multi-million dollar verdicts or settlements.