The families of passengers killed on Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 will almost certainly sue the airline, even though the airliner was shot down by a missile over a rebel-held area of Ukraine, a veteran aviation lawyer says. "A shoot-down is considered an accident," Justin Green, a partner in the New York law firm Kreindler & Kreindler, told NBC News. He noted the U.S. Supreme Court defined an accident as "an unusual or unexpected event. Even a terrorist attack is considered an accident," said Green. Under the Montreal Convention, which governs international aviation law, airlines are limited in their liability to around $150,000 per passenger, said Green. That compensation can be higher if it can be proved the airline was willfully negligent, as his firm did in such cases as the 1988 bombing of a Boeing 747 over Lockerbie, Scotland and the Soviet shooting down of a Korean Air Lines 747 in 1983. He said in the Malaysia Air case, lawyers would be looking to prove the airline was negligent to fly over a war-torn region.
--- Steve James
First published July 18 2014, 12:25 PM