10 June 2012

Nigeria: Relatives of Victims Meet Fashola, Weigh Options for Release of Bodies

Lagos — The husband of a woman killed in last Sunday's plane crash is suing the plane's manufacturer, Boeing, and engine maker, United Technologies, saying her death was caused by a "dangerous and defective" aircraft.

David Chukwunonso Allison, who lives in Lagos, is also suing the estate of the American pilot, Peter Waxtan, according to the lawsuit filed on Thursday in the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division.

Allison's wife, Joy, was among the 153 people on board who died in the crash in Lagos, Nigeria's worst in two decades. Waxtan was also killed.

Dana and Aviation Minister Stella Oduah have said the pilot radioed a distress signal to report engine failure minutes before the airliner crashed.

"There was a mayday call for engine failure at 1442 hours (1342 GMT). We don't know if it was one or two," Oscar Wilson, Dana's director of flight operations told a news conference on Thursday. He said all the planes used by Dana had been tested to ensure they can fly on just one engine, in accordance with international norms.

The lawsuit said: "As a direct ... result of defendants' design, manufacture, sale, shipment, distribution, maintenance, service, operation, ownership, leasing, and transfer of the subject aircraft and its component parts in a dangerous and defective condition ... Joy Chiedozie Allison was killed."

It blamed the pilot for failing to "properly execute landing of the subject aircraft," which it said was the result of "negligence and carelessness."

Boeing (BA.N) spokesman Doug Alder Jr. said it was standard practice for the company not to comment on pending litigation.

The Pratt & Whitney unit of US manufacturer United Technologies (UTX.N), which made the engines on the aircraft, said in an e-mailed statement on Friday: "We are deeply saddened by the lives lost in the recent Dana Airlines incident. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of all those involved in this incident.

"Pratt & Whitney is cooperating fully with investigating authorities, and we are unable to offer any further comment as the investigation is ongoing."

A note on the door of the pilot's modest Fort Lauderdale, Florida, home read: "There is no statement at this time. Please respect our privacy."

A young man who answered the door and asked not to be named also declined comment.

Aviation lawyer Gary Robb, based in Kansas City, Missouri, who is the lead counsel on the lawsuit, said Allison was the first to file a lawsuit arising from the death of a relative in the crash.

"He did so because he wants answers, and he believes that the United States court system is far preferable to fairly and justly arrive at a resolution," Robb said on Friday.

He said the lawsuit had been filed in Illinois because Boeing is based there.

Most of the dead on board were Nigerians. A family of six Americans of Nigerian descent was also killed, as were four Chinese citizens, two Lebanese, a British woman and a French woman.

Nigeria's government has set up panels to review the safety of all airlines in the country and suspended indefinitely Dana Air's air license.

The case is David Chukwunonso Allison v. The Boeing Company et al, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois Eastern Division, No. 1:12-cv-04441

(Reporting by Chijioke Ohuocha; Additional reporting by Nick Tate; Writing by Tim Cocks; Editing by Toni Reinhold)plane 10/6

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