Jiangshan Mourns Asiana Victims as Lawyers Gather

South China Morning Post’s Daniel Ren reports from a memorial service for three Chinese students killed in last month’s Asiana plane crash, amid questions over compensation and allegedly predatory behavior by U.S. lawyers:

More than 500 packed a funeral parlour in Jiangshan, Zhejiang, for a memorial service for Wang Linjia and Ye Mengyuan, both 16, and Liu Yipeng, 17.

[…] In mid-July, an Asiana delegation went to Jiangshan to express their apologies to the school but provided no detailed proposal for compensation, said Hao Junbo, a Beijing-based lawyer retained by the local government to offer legal services.

“A key question is where to file the lawsuits,” Hao said. “The compensation amounts differ a lot, based on different laws in China, the US and South Korea.”

[…] Last week it emerged that the families of the three girls had retained New York law firm Kreindler & Kreindler, which specialises in aviation disasters, including the September 11 attacks in 2001 and the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988. [Source]

Potential damages and jurisdiction for legal action in such cases are restricted by international treaties. Ren notes that Ye’s death under the wheels of a rescue vehicle will likely allow her family to sue San Francisco authorities in the U.S.; another Chinese passenger is seeking $5 million from the airline in a suit made possible by the purchase of his ticket in the United States. From Dan Nakaso at the San Jose Mercury News:

Xie would be barred from suing South Korea-based Asiana in U.S. courts because of an international treaty called the Montreal Convention that limits his legal settlement to no more than about $135,000 in China, where he is from, or South Korea, where Asiana is based. But the son’s purchase of Xie’s round-trip ticket in the United States represents one of five exceptions to the treaty, clearing the way for Xie’s $5 million lawsuit filed in San Francisco, [lawyer Michael] Verna said.

“Here we have an atypical situation, an exception to the Montreal Convention,” Verna said. “While he is a resident of Shanghai and actually a Canadian citizen, since the ticket was purchased in the United States by his son, that gives him the option of suing Asiana in the United States. It’s a technical, legal issue. But it’s very significant.” [Source]

See more on the Asiana crash and its aftermath via CDT.