Aug 21, 2002
By God Indiana

Another Lawsuit Filed In Southwest Midway Accident
Sat, 29 Apr '06

Boeing, City Of Chicago Named As Co-Defendants
Claiming that the pilots of Southwest Flight 1248 were negligent in the operation of their aircraft in last December's fatal accident at Chicago's Midway Airport, a passenger injured during the fatal landing has sued the airline. Also named in the suit are Boeing, and the City of Chicago, which owns and operates the airport.

The suit was filed by the aviation law firm Kreindler & Kreindler LLP on behalf of the passenger, a Naval officer then living in Annapolis, MD, who claims to have suffered physical and psychological injuries as a result of the accident

The suit claims that a series of negligent and willful operational, judgmental and training failures by the defendants led to the accident, including Southwest's failure to properly calculate the required landing distance; failure to discontinue an unstable approach; and failure to properly train the flight crew in the use of the airplane's autobrake, reverse thrusters and spoiler systems. The suit also alleges that the crew's first officer did not have his seat in a proper position to reach and apply the brakes.

"Southwest Airlines acted in conscious disregard for the safety of its passengers on Flight 1248, as well as for the victims on the ground and the general public," said Kreindler's Daniel O. Rose, a pilot who successfully litigated a similar case against Southwest stemming from a runway overrun in Burbank, CA, in March 2000.

Less than a week after the accident at Midway -- which claimed the life of a six-year-old boy in car that was struck by the 737 as the aircraft departed the runway -- Kreindler & Kreindler issued a press release postulating the accident was "strikingly similar" to the Burbank accident.

"Concerns about cost savings -- a known element of the corporate culture of this particular airline -- combined with sub-standard crew training and poor judgment by the pilots of this flight resulted in a horrific event, including the tragic death of a young boy on the ground," Rose added.

To back his assertion that Southwest's operating model promotes a "dangerous corporate culture," in addition to citing the six-year-old Burbank accident, Rose also claims the NTSB's Probable Cause report regarding another Southwest incident -- this one in Amarillo, TX on May 24, 2003 -- shows how Southwest encourages hazardous behavior in the name of meeting a schedule.

"In the Amarillo incident, a SWA flight crew similarly attempted a dangerous approach and landing, that time during a thunderstorm," said Rose. "That aircraft ran off the side of the runway. The Amarillo flight crew apparently disregarded safety in its decision to get that plane down."

According to the NTSB, none of the 68 people onboard the aircraft were injured in the accident.

The suit also claims that Southwest used an on-board performance computer system (OPC), designed to calculate the required landing distance, that was negligently designed and programmed. Rose claims the system factored in the ability of the plane's thrust reversers to assist in slowing the 737 immediately after touchdown -- instead of several seconds after the plane's wheels hit the runway.

No strangers to a courtroom, the firm has litigated dozens of high-profile aviation cases -- including cases in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Korean Air Lines Flight 007, TWA Flight 800, and American Airlines Flight 587.