Federal Judge Robert W. Sweet ruled in favor of the plaintiffs on the crucial question of what laws apply to their claims in the cases arising from the crash of an Airbus aircraft, operated as American Airlines Flight 587, in Belle Harbor, New York on November 12, 2001. Kreindler partners Steven Pounian and Blanca Rodriguez took the lead in briefing and arguing the issues on behalf of all the plaintiffs. Importantly, Judge Sweet decided to apply New York law to the punitive damages claims of ground victims against defendant Airbus. The effect of the ruling is that a claim for punitive damages by the ground victims may also be asserted against American Airlines under New York law. The court also ruled that additional factual determinations are required before the Court decides whether French law applies to the passengers' punitive damage claims against Airbus. Deciding a complex issue that was left open by the U.S. Supreme Court, Judge Sweet agreed with Mr. Pounian and Ms. Rodriguez, our appellate experts, that this crash was governed by maritime law because the point at which the flight was doomed occurred over navigable waters, when the vertical fin ripped off the Airbus 300. Judge Sweet also agreed with Ms. Rodriguez' brief that maritime law allows recovery for loss of love, care and companionship, and can be supplemented by more generous state law. Defendants' arguments were rejected. Mr. Pounian and Ms. Rodriguez argued the motions before the Court.
Partners Mr. Pounian and Ms. Rodriguez, who are members of the American 587 Plaintiffs' Executive Committee, and Mr. Spragg are handling the case for Kreindler & Kreindler.
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