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'Unlimited' Family Payout If Boeing Responsible for Jet: Lawyer

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Compensation to the families of passengers on missing Flight 370 would be “unlimited” if Boeing were found to be responsible, the first attorney to file papers in a U.S. court said Wednesday.

“According to our primary investigation, we think Boeing should be responsible because we have done a lot of cases and we know there is something behind the plane,” William Wang of Chicago’s Ribbeck Law told NBC News after filing papers at a court in Cook County, Ill. The company is also bringing a case against Malaysia Airlines, he added.

According to the Montreal Convention, a treaty concerning compensation for the victims of air disasters, Malaysia Airlines should be responsible for roughly $200,000 per passenger, he said.

“If Boeing is responsible the compensation is unlimited, per passenger -- multi-million dollars,” said Wang, who added that Ribbeck was representing 10 clients from Malaysia and Indonesia and was in talks with Chinese families. No American families were on his books.

“We can win a minimum of at least $3 million per passenger no matter what nationality they are because American law does not support discrimination,” he said, adding that Boeing was a U.S. company and therefore fell under the jurisdiction of American law. Malaysia Airlines also had business in Illinois.

Experts say a claim filed through a U.S. court is worth more than those filed elsewhere, meaning payouts to families filing in different countries could vary significantly.

Wang has filed a petition to the court for discovery, which means that Boeing and Malaysia Airlines have to show all documentation relating to the 777 aircraft, he added.

Ribbeck is also representing 115 passengers in the crash of Asiana Airlines Flight 214 in San Francisco in July.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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