It appears that Asiana Airlines has been sending emails to victims of its July 6, 2013 crash at SFO since about July 15, 2013, inviting them to contact certain individuals “For all medical inquiries, such as billing and invoice reimbursement.” Unstated in the email is that the injured passengers are directed to individuals who are lawyers for the law firm the airline has retained to defend itself with regard to the crash. When all the rhetoric is stripped away, the ultimate job of those lawyers is to defeat or diminish the claims of those who suffered the consequences of the crash.
While the individuals and the law firm are named, it takes a certain sophistication in legal matters to understand from the email that those persons are lawyers with a leading defense law firm. Nothing in the email alerts recipients that they are actually being asked to give information to the very persons whose primary job is to defeat or minimize the claims that the passengers might have.
The email does not tell the passengers that, if they have a lawyer they should refer the email to him or her, but, to the contrary, actually threatens the recipient by saying that “You should not disclose, copy or distribute this email. Any such action by you is strictly prohibited and may be unlawful.” What chutzpah! By what authority do they make such an outlandish statement? What is a lay passenger to think? If they want reimbursement for medical expenses or if indeed you want and need the $10,000 advance, had you better not show your lawyer, family member, advisor or friend a copy of this email for fear of losing your rights?
It is likely that one of the persons to whom the passenger is referred, attorney Frank Silane, a highly experienced aviation litigator with the law firm of Condon & Forsyth, will be the very person – lead counsel for the airline – who will one day stand up in court taking positions directly adverse to the passengers. In such a circumstance, the conflict of interest that Condon & Forsyth has with the passengers should have been disclosed in the email, up front, and not hidden behind a message that seems to be couched in the victim’s best interests.
It is my opinion that it was, and is, the obligation of Asiana Airlines, and its attorneys, to inform the people that suffered from its conduct, many in horrific ways, about the conflict of interest Condon & Forsyth has with them, and that anything they say to lawyers in that firm can, and will, be used against them in a court of law.
People have a right to know that sending information or signing any documents submitted by Condon & Forsyth or Asiana Airlines, without the advice of their own lawyer, can be hazardous to their legal rights and should be avoided.
By Ronald L. M. Goldman Google+