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Cook County Judge Dismisses Petition Against Boeing Filed by Chicago Law Firm

As predicted, the Petition for Discovery that was filed against Boeing in the Malaysia Airlines crash was dismissed Friday on the court's own motion on the grounds that "the petition exceeds the scope of allowable discovery." Cook County Circuit Court Judge Kathy M. Flanagan, also the judge who dismissed two similar petitions last year filed by the same Chicago law firm, again dismissed this action against Chicago-based Boeing.  Judge Flanagan, Supervising Judge of the Motions Section of the Law Division in the Circuit Court of Cook County, is assigned all aviation cases. Robert A. Clifford, veteran aviation attorney who has handled numerous international and national aviation crashes, has been speaking out the past week against the "premature filing" by the law firm in Chicago that again filed a Petition for Discovery on March 25 despite no remains of the wreckage of the missing aircraft.  Boeing manufactured the 777-200ER airplane on which the 239 passengers were aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 that has gone missing for more than three weeks. Several countries, including the United States, have been conducting an intensive search for the vanished aircraft, and although rescue workers have sighted and retrieved what they call "suspicious items," at this writing nothing has been proven to be debris from the missing plane.  The plane went missing March 8 during a flight to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia's capital. In Judge Flanagan's four-page Memorandum Opinion and Order, she based her ruling on Illinois Supreme Court Rule 224 which "permits discovery for the sole purpose of ascertaining the identity of one who may be liable in damages (emphasis supplied)."  She went on to write that, "The Supreme Court Rule 224 petition exceeds the allowable scope of the rule, and must be dismissed." Supreme Court Rule 224 is a procedural tool that has very limited application and Judge Flanagan points out that it is inappropriately used in a case such as this when one of the potential parties already is known.  "Once there is sufficient information to identify at least one potential defendant, then the correct procedure is to file an action at law for damages...," Judge Flanagan wrote.  The Judge also points out in her Order that the appointment of a special administrator under Rule 224 is inappropriate and unnecessary. Judge Flanagan also took issue with the law firm that brought yet another improper petition in an aviation crash; she noted that she dismissed "similar Supreme Court Rule 224 petitions" against respondents in fatal airplane crashes involve Lao Airlines and Asiana Airlines.  Lao Airlines Flight QV301 crashed into the Mekong River last year killing all 49 aboard on its way to Laos on Oct. 16, 2013.  It was a turboprop ATR-72-600.  Asiana Airlines Flight 214 slammed into a seawall at San Francisco's airport  killing three people and injuring 181 others last year involved a Boeing 777-200ER. "Both of those petitions were assigned to this Court and on each occasion, this Court entered memorandum opinions and orders dismissing those petitions as having been improperly brought.  Despite these orders, the same law firm has proceeded, yet again, with the filing of the instant petition knowing full well that there is no basis to do so.  Should this law firm choose to do so, the Court will impose sanctions on its' own motion," Judge Flanagan wrote.

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