Plane crash victims’ kin settle with China Airlines

Kyodo

Relatives of 38 people who died in a 1994 plane crash at Nagoya airport reached a compromise settlement Friday with China Airlines, lawyers for the plaintiffs said.

The two parties agreed that the Taiwanese airline will pay each family 16.4 million yen plus an undisclosed sum, in line with an earlier offer tabled by the firm, according to the lawyers.

The company also expressed remorse over the crash and pledged to prevent a recurrence of the accident, they said.

The settlement was reached six years and 10 months after the 105 relatives sued China Airlines and Airbus Industrie, the manufacturer of the crashed jet, in December 1995, seeking a total of 4.1 billion yen in compensation.

It was finalized after the group’s leader, Noboru Yamamoto, finally dropped his suit against the defendants.

Yamamoto himself, however, refuses to accept the terms of the compensation accord.

“The plaintiffs are growing old, and some have even died,” said Yukihiko Nishio, one of the plaintiffs’ lawyers. “Some plaintiffs want to be released from the emotional pressures of the lawsuit and a solution thorough settlement is the proper way.”

In December 1997, another group of relatives of crash victims settled with the airline, while yet another suit filed by relatives of some 120 victims from Japan and Taiwan is still pending.

Yamamoto, 49, said he could not bring himself to settle the matter, adding that he hopes the remaining group will continue the battle.

The 38 people for whom the latest settlement was reached were employees of Nittoseito, a ceramics maker in Toki, Gifu Prefecture, and its affiliated companies.

The China Airlines Airbus plane, which had 271 passengers and crew members on board, crashed at Nagoya airport on April 26, 1994, killing 264 people.

An investigation by the then Transport Ministry showed in July 1996 that the pilots’ lack of knowledge about the aircraft, allied to certain mechanical features of the plane in question, combined to cause the tragedy.

The Nagoya District Public Prosecutor’s Office determined that the pilot and copilot, who both died in the crash, were negligent, but decided not to indict them or six senior China Airlines officials.