Malaysia Airlines sued by relatives of MH17 crew shot down over Ukraine

The families of six crew members on a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet shot down over Ukraine nearly two years ago filed lawsuits against the airline on Thursday, accusing it of negligence and breach of contract.

Lawyer for families says airline failed to conduct adequate risk assessment

The reconstructed cockpit of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 is seen after the presentation of the final report regarding its crash, in Gilze Rijen, the Netherlands, in October 2015. (Michael Kooren/Reuters)

The families of six crew members on a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet shot down over Ukraine nearly two years ago filed lawsuits against the airline on Thursday, accusing it of negligence and breach of contract.

Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it was hit by a surface-to-air missile on July 17, 2014, killing all 298 people on board at the height of fighting in the Ukraine conflict.

Thomas Philip, the lawyer for the families, said the airline failed to conduct an adequate risk assessment and charted a course through a known conflict zone, posing an unreasonable risk to those on board.

He said the airline also was guilty of breach of contract for failing to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the flight crew.

"They failed to fulfil these duties, resulting in catastrophic loss of life," he said.

Normi Abdullah, centre, the wife of Malaysia Airlines in-flight supervisor Mohd Ghafar Bin Abu Bakar is shown at a 2014 ceremony following the crash. Bakar is one of six crew members represented in a lawsuit filed against the airline. (Mohd Rasfan/Getty Images)

The families are seeking general damages for loss of support and services, damages for pain, suffering and stress, among others, Philip said.

One of the relatives, Chong Seng See, said his sister, flight stewardess Chong Yee Pheng, worked for the airline for more than 18 years.

"The families of all the victims of MH17 deserve to be treated with humanity, compassion and respect. I hope [the airline] will do right by them," he said in a statement.

According to a report on a Malaysian digital news site, the other crew members represented in the lawsuit in addition to Pheng are Nur Shazana Mohamed Salleh, Hamdazlin Sham Mohamed Arifin, Sanjid Singh, Mohd Ghafar Abu Bakar and Lee Hui Pin.

A Dutch investigation determined last year that the aircraft was shot down by a Russian-made missile fired from pro-Russia rebel territory, but did not say who fired it.

Families of seven passengers from Australia, New Zealand and Malaysia sued Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin, last month over their alleged involvement in the incident. They filed the lawsuits in the European Court of Human Rights seeking damages of $10 million per passenger.

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