Today Russian media outlets reported that American and British law firms are competing to represent the victims of last month's Sibir Airways plane crash in Siberia. The European aviation consortium Airbus is likely to face lawsuits on behalf of family members and survivors of the crash.
Siberian Airlines flight #778 Airbus A-310 crashed in Irkutsk a month ago. Russia is known for very small compensations being paid to the families of accident victims, that's why there aren't any Russian or foreign law firms in the country that specialize in serious torts. Foreign lawyers don't like dealing with Russian courts and companies because the laws are opaque; the courts are easy to bribe; the economy is shadowy and it is very difficult to receive any compensation even after years of litigation. If Airbus is proven to be at fault, however, then this case would set a major precedent for foreign law firms hoping to represent Russian clients in wrongful death and injury cases.
American law firm Speiser Krause said on Monday that they are aiming for approximately $800,000 of compensation per victim. A few hours later, they were joined in a competition for potential clients by the British firm Stewarts Solicitors. The British law firm is notably more careful and less optimistic about the outcome of investigation, but promises "solid compensations" and says that it will only keep 25% of the payments. The American firm Speiser Krause isn't saying what their fees would be, however both companies are willing to represent the clients at no charge. Both law firms seem to be confident that Airbus was somehow at fault.
Speiser Krause is currently litigating several aviation accident trials and promises to launch its own independent investigation of the Irkutsk crash. Because the A-310 was manufactured in France with aircraft engines made in America by Pratt&Whitney and maintained by Lufthansa Technik in Germany, there are plenty of legal venues for pursuing the case outside Russia.
Speiser Krause has already agreed to represent 27 families; the British firm is still meeting with its potential clients and is aiming to take on 100 clients. The American partners allege that Airbus knew about a reverse brake systems problem on the A-310. Speiser Krause spokesman Stuart Dench, representing the firm in Moscow, said that "the victims should have a choice."
Meanwhile, Airbus received more bad news from Russia this week, when Aeroflot confirmed that it will purchase 22 Boeing 787 Dreamliners instead of Airbus A-350s. The Dreamliners will be assembled in Everett, Washington.