Appeals Court strikes out MAB as defendant in MH370 lawsuit

Relatives of passengers missing on Malaysia Airlines MH370 hold placards outside the Lama Temple in Beijing in March. - AFP Photo

Relatives of passengers missing on Malaysia Airlines MH370 hold placards outside the Lama Temple in Beijing in March. – AFP Photo

PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia Airlines Berhad (MAB) has succeeded in its appeal to strike out a lawsuit filed by the next-of-kin of three passengers who were on board the doomed Malaysia Airlines (MAS) Flight MH370 when it vanished more than two years ago.

A Court of Appeal’s three-man panel chaired by Justice Datuk Rohana Yusuf today removed MAB as a defendant in the lawsuit filed by the children and parents of Tan Ah Meng, 46, and wife, Chuang Hsiu Ling @ Cindy Chuang, 45.

The couple and their eldest son, Tan Wei Chew, 19, were among 239 passengers and crew on board flight MH370 when the aircraft disappeared during a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8, 2014.

Following this decision, the only defendant retained in the lawsuit is Malaysia Airlines System Berhad (MAS).

Except for MAS, the four other parties named defendants in the lawsuit had applied at the High Court to strike out the lawsuit.

The Malaysian Government, Malaysian Civil Aviation Department (DCA) director-general and Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) chief succeeded in the High Court on March 30, this year to strike out the lawsuit.

MAB failed to get the lawsuit struck out.

However, the family of the couple is appealing that High Court decision and the hearing of their appeal is set on Oct 27, before the Court of Appeal.

Rohana, in allowing MAB’s appeal today, said the court agreed with the arguments raised by MAB’s counsel, Logan Sabapathy and she also awarded RM8,000 costs to MAB.

Logan submitted that MAB should not be named as defendant in the lawsuit because there was a vesting order under the Malaysian Airline System Berhad Act which stated that MAS’ liabilities transferred to MAB did not include the MH370 and MH17 lawsuits. Flight MH17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014.

MAB was incorporated on Nov 7, 2014, as part of a restructuring exercise that saw the national carrier changing hands from MAS to MAB.

Lawyer Sangeet Kaur Deo, representing the family argued that MAB should be retained as defendant in the lawsuit because the setting up of MAB was to eventually take over the entire MAS operations, and thereafter, MAS would cease to exist.

She (Sangeet Kaur) said the fact that MAB was set up only after the MH370 incident did not prevent MAB from liability.

The five family members, including the couple’s children, Tan Wei Hong, 16, and Tan Wei Jie, 14, the parents of Ah Meng, Tan Hun Khong, 85, and Lai Chew Lai, 83, and the mother of Hsiu Ling, Chuang Hung Chien, 76 filed the lawsuit seeking for damages over the loss of the couple and their son.

Sangeet Kaur told reporters they were considering taking the matter to the Federal Court. Also representing MAB was lawyer Sanjeev Kumar Rasiah. – Bernama