Germanwings crash victims' families plan US lawsuit
(AFP) Relatives of victims of the Germanwings crash in the French Alps hope to take their compensation claims against parent company Lufthansa to a US court, their lawyer said Sunday.
Co-pilot Andreas Lubitz, 27, has been blamed for deliberately crashing the flight on March 24 headed from Spain to Germany that claimed the lives of all 150 people on board.
"We are preparing a lawsuit in the USA and see good chances of finding a judicial venue in the United States," Elmar Giemulla, who represents 39 families, told the Sunday newspaper Bild am Sonntag.
The plaintiffs wanted to know "how it was possible that a co-pilot with known mental health problems and a corresponding history was allowed to fly at all," the lawyer was quoted as saying.
The newspaper said compensation in air accident cases in the United States is usually 10 times higher than in Germany.
It was not immediately clear on what legal basis the lawyer wanted the case against the German airline to be heard in the United States.
Giemulla -- who told Bild he was in contact with a New York law firm that specialises in aviation claims -- could not be immediately reached for comment.
Relatives of many of the 72 Germans among the dead have turned down Lufthansa's compensation offer and accused the airline of ignoring their suffering.
Lufthansa disbursed 50,000 euros per victim in immediate aid. It has offered 25,000 euros more to each of the families plus 10,000 euros to each immediate relative including parents, children and spouses.
The parents of 16 high school student victims in an open letter to Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr have charged that to put this value "on the life of each of our children and on our pain" was offensive.
Lufthansa has said its offer had gone "well beyond" what was required by German law.
The airline has said it plans to compensate relatives of non-German victims -- among them three US citizens -- but that it was too early to quantify the exact amount in all cases because laws differed in their countries of origin.
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