May, 2019 – Los Angeles, California – – The law firm of Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman will pursue legal action on behalf of grieving Lion Air Flight 610 families who were pressured into signing unlawful release and discharge forms designed to strip away their legal rights.
On Oct. 29, 2018, a Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft operating as Lion Air Flight 610 crashed in the Java Sea, Indonesia, killing all 189 passengers and crew onboard. While the official cause of the crash has not yet been determined, a preliminary investigation revealed flight instrument failures tied to a potential design defect in the MAX 8’s Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS). Concern over these issues prompted a worldwide grounding of all Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft after a second MAX 8, Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, suffered the same malfunction, and crashed just six minutes after takeoff, killing 157 people.
Lion Air Victims’ Families Pressured into Signing Forms That Forfeit Their Legal Rights in Return for the Minimum Allowable Compensation Under Indonesian Law
A few days after the tragic crash, when victims’ families were still mourning their deceased relatives, they were told by Lion Air employees that they could receive a payment of roughly 1.3 billion rupiah (equivalent to $91,600 USD) if they signed a form.
Faced with an uncertain future after losing a breadwinner in the crash, many families welcomed the government-mandated payment to cover expenses. Under Indonesian law, Lion Air is strictly liable to pay compensation to victims’ families with no strings attached; this is considered to be emergency money to tide them over while their full legal rights are determined.
But 1.3 billion rupiah is the bare minimum the families were entitled to receive. Worse, the form they were required to sign to secure the funds imposed “complicated and shocking” conditions that stripped away their legal rights, according to the New York Times.
The form, called a “release and discharge,” was a pledge that the families would not pursue legal action against Lion Air, its financial backers and insurers, Boeing, or hundreds of other potential defendants in lawsuits stemming from the aviation disaster. Attorneys working for Global Aerospace – a company that insures both Lion Air and Boeing – wrote the release and discharge, which falsely stated that the signers were given the opportunity to have an attorney of their choosing review the form. In addition to promising not to pursue legal action, the form also prohibited the signers from disclosing the terms of the agreement to anyone.
“There was no time to read it carefully or check it…It is cruel and it is illegal.” – Latief Nurbana, who lost his 24-year-old son in the crash.
“The amount is small…But we wanted the psychological pressure to stop.” – Dedi Sukendar, a relative of one of the crash victims. The family agreed to sign the release form so that the decedent’s two children could afford to continue their education.
Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman Will Pursue Claims on Behalf of Lion Air Families to Set Aside Illegal Release and Discharge Forms and Vindicate Their Legal Rights
Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman was disgusted to learn that families were bullied into signing these unlawful release and discharge forms. Indonesian law specifies that heirs of aviation accident victims who receive government-mandated payments do not have to give up their legal rights to pursue claims against the airline or any other entities that may have been involved in the accident.
Let it be clear: in our opinion, these illegal release and discharge forms can and will be set aside, and those wishing to pursue their rights can be granted the opportunity to do so. Our law firm will mount cases on behalf of these families not only to set aside these unconscionable agreements, but to fully vindicate their rights.
“In more than 40 years of representing families of victims who died in airplane crashes, the behavior of Lion Airlines, and perhaps its insurer, toward the families suffering from the loss of their loved ones is the most egregious I have ever seen,” says Ronald L. M. Goldman, a veteran trial lawyer, board certified by the National Board of Trial Advocacy as a Civil Trial Advocate and Civil Pretrial Practice Advocate.
“It can legitimately be regarded as outrageous, and shocking to the conscience of any reasonable person that those who lost so much—and who are still reeling from the news of the horror that befell those who were lost—were so blatantly pressured into signing away their rights by misrepresentation, duress, undue influence, and possibly outright fraud.”
“At the most vulnerable time in their lives, beset by suffering and confusion about what to do, and for many the worry about how to replace the income of lost breadwinners, Lion Airlines and its representatives swooped down and literally bullied the families of victims into signing something they could not reasonably have understood for far less compensation than they deserve, thereupon taking unfair advantage of grieving families. This vicious behavior cannot and will not be allowed to go without challenge.”
Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman Has Experience Representing Plane Crash Victims in the U.S. and Abroad
The aviation attorneys at Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman are saddened and outraged by the tragic loss of life in the Lion Air Flight 610 crash last October and the Ethiopian Airlines 302 crash in March. As a law firm with vast experience representing plane crash victims from all around the world, we are closely monitoring the investigations of the Lion Air crash and the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crash, both of which involved Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft. It is our sincere hope that the lessons learned from these preventable disasters will go toward improving aviation safety and protecting air travelers.
Our firm has proven time and again that we can effectively investigate and litigate international airline crashes, no matter the distance, and achieve for our clients a full measure of justice. We will not let the bullies win. Contact us today to speak with an experienced international airline crash attorney and protect your legal rights.