Families of US-Bangla Airlines crash victims file $19 million lawsuitFlight BS-211 from Dhaka crashed on landing at Tribhuvan International Airport, killing 51 passengers.
Families of the US-Bangla Airlines crash victims on Wednesday filed a lawsuit against the Bangladeshi carrier in Kathmandu District Court for unlimited compensation, citing wrongful death nearly a year and a half after the disaster.
According to the plaintiffs' lawyer Amrit Kharel, the families of the seven medical students who died in the crash sued the airline for $19.09 million.
On March 12, 2018, a scheduled US-Bangla Airlines flight from Dhaka to Kathmandu crashed on landing at Tribhuvan International Airport, killing 51 passengers including 22 Nepalis. There were 71 people, including four crew members aboard the 76-seater Bombardier.
The families of deceased passengers Ashna Shakya, Anjila Shrestha, Meeli Maharjan, Neega Maharjan, Princy Dhami, Sanjaya Maharjan and Shreya Jha filed the suit.
“The rightful claim has been filed as per international law after the Dhaka-based airline refused to provide compensation on a par with the Montreal Convention 1999,” said Kharel.
The convention imposes a minimum liability of $113,100 Special Drawing Rights (SDR), equivalent to $158,565 for each passenger. This works out to approximately Rs17.44 million at the current exchange rate ($1=Rs110), unless the airline proves that such damage was due not to its negligence or other wrongful act or omission.
Nepal submitted its ratification instrument to the International Civil Aviation Organisation in Montreal, Canada on October 16 last year. The Montreal Convention 1999 came into force in Nepal on December 15, 2018.
The lawsuit was filed based on the Nepal government's Aircraft Accident Investigation Commission report which concluded that the crash and 'wrongful death' occurred due to 'willful misconduct' and 'gross negligence' of the airline, said Kharel.
On July 17, families of the victims had claimed rightful compensation as per the Montreal Convention 1999, but the airline said it could provide only $50,000 per person. “On July 23, the company formally rejected the claim made by the families of the victims,” said Kharel.
“The families then decided to seek legal remedy to get their rightful compensation.”
According to him, the compensation amount has been fixed as per the valuation of a global risk consultant.
US-Bangla Airlines took insurance coverage of $107 million through two local insurance companies—Sena Kalyan Insurance Company and Sadharan Bima Corporation—consisting of $7 million for the aircraft and $100 million for passenger liabilities.
The government’s Accident Investigation Commission released its report in January 2019, concluding that the captain of the US-Bangla Airlines flight BS-211 was 'stressed and emotionally disturbed'. Evidence confirmed that the captain was mentally unstable and unfit to fly.