March 11, 2000
LOS ANGELES (CNN) – Relatives of a passenger who died in the January 31 crash of Alaska Airlines Flight 261 filed a lawsuit in federal court here Friday against Alaska Airlines, Inc., McDonnell Douglas Corp., the Boeing Co., and Trig Aerospace.
The MD-83 was en route from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico to San Francisco when it crashed into the Pacific Ocean about 50 miles north of Los Angeles, killing all 88 people aboard.
The suit claims negligence on the part of Alaska Airlines and the Boeing Company. The Plaintiffs are family members of Gabriela Chavez Garcia de Estrada.
"Alaska Airlines’ policy of troubleshooting mechanical difficulties during flight played Russian Roulette with the lives of their passengers and put profits over safety," said Brian Panish, and attorney for the Plaintiffs. "Boeing manufactured a plane with a defective design that took the lives of those who flew on it."
Pilots report stabilizer problems
The MD-83 airplane was manufactured by the McDonnell Douglas Corporation, which has since been acquired by Boeing.
Trig Aerospace acquired the company that made the jackscrew used in the plane’s tail assembly, which controls the up-and-down pitch of the aircraft.
Pilots reported a problem with the stabilizer before the plane slammed into the water.
The National Transportation Safety Board has said the threads of the gimbal nut, which attached the horizontal stabilizer to the jackscrew, and threads on the loser stop nut were stripped. Impact marks were visible on the outside of both nuts, board investigators said.
Investigators examine impact marks
The board is trying to determine if the impact indicated by the marks happened before or after the plane crashed.
A Boeing spokesman said the company does not comment on pending litigation.
Regarding all allegations that information is being withheld from the victims’ families, he said, "The responsibility for information that arises out of the investigation lies with the NTSB."
A spokesman for Alaska Airlines said the company would not comment on the pending litigation.
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