First lawsuit filed over doomed Malaysia Airlines Flight 370

A widow has filed what may be the first of many lawsuits over disappeared Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, as the tragedy's two-year anniversary—and filing deadline—approaches next month.


Malaysian woman Sri Devi Kanan, her two infant sons and her parents-in-law are seeking around £4 million in damages for the death of their family member, 33-year-old Puspanathan Subramanian.  Mr Puspanathan , a consultant, was on board Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 when it veered off course mysteriously on March 7 2014 and disappeared off the west coast of Australia. Apart from a wing component of the Boeing 777 which eventually washed up on the French island of Reunion, the plane and its 239 passengers and crew were never found.

Negligence claimed

The family’s lawsuit accuses several individuals and organisations of negligence in connection with Mr Puspanathan’s death aboard Flight 370, and draws particular attention to the failure of authorities to track the flight once it deviated from its planned route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. The lawsuit names nine defendants, including Malaysia Airline Systems Berhad, the Civil Aviation Department, the Royal Malaysian Air Force and the Malaysian government. Among the claims made within the suit are traumatic psychiatric injury, loss of financial support, nervous shock and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Deadline approaching

The two-year anniversary of the Malaysia Airlines tragedy, which is approaching on March 8, is also the filing deadline for suits relating to the accident. The family’s lawyer, Shailender Bhar, said that Mr Pusparathan’s relatives had ‘no choice’ but to file the lawsuit as official requests for further information about the incident have failed to bring answers for families. ‘We have advised them perhaps there is no choice now, no point waiting any longer, there’s only two weeks left… so they should file as soon as possible, so that’s why they have given us instructions to file immediately,’ he said.


Another lawyer, Arunan Selvaraj, is reportedly organising lawsuits for the next-of-kin of 15 deceased passengers for filing next week. However, plaintiffs seeking to file lawsuits over the accident face significant obstacles. Malaysia Airlines’ holding company Malaysia Airline Systems (MAS) was dissolved last year in a massive restructure and replaced with a new entity, Malaysia Airlines Berhad (MAB). To sue the airline, next-of-kins must first obtain permission from the MAS administrator, Mohammed Faiz Azmi. In a sign of things that may be to come, Mr Azmi has reportedly given consent to 96 next-of-kins, accepting all requests but allegedly attaching several conditions to the consent, including the caveat that plaintiffs not name MAB or third parties in their lawsuit against MAS. Voice 370, a next-of-kin support group, has slammed the efforts to shield MAB as a ‘despicable act of irresponsibility and cowardice.’ As MAS’ assets, funds and airline business have all been transferred to MAB, it is feared that plaintiffs may be unable to secure payouts from MAS even if they are awarded damages in court. Sources: The Malay Mail; AsiaOne, The Toronto Sun, The Independent 

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