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    Lawsuit Against Boeing – Alaska Air Flight 261

    Find out if you have case
    Posted on February 28, 2024 To


    Crashed: January 31, 2000 in the Pacific Ocean

    On January 31, 2000, an Alaska Airlines MD-83 aircraft in flight to San Francisco plummeted from the sky and crashed into the Pacific Ocean, killing all 88 people on board. The tragic event raised serious questions surrounding the safety of one of America’s largest airlines at the time and left devastated families wondering what went so wrong.

    Most of those aboard the jet had just enjoyed several sunny days in beautiful Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Alaska Air Flight 261 was heading to San Francisco and then continuing to Seattle. Suddenly, as it flew along the Pacific coast, the aircraft experienced problems. The pilots were unable to land and after a long struggle to gain and keep control of the aircraft, it crashed into the ocean, killing everyone aboard.

    As news began filtering of a plane crash in the Pacific Ocean, families hoped against hope that their loved ones were not on the plane. As the passenger and crew lists were confirmed, families were left devastated and helpless. Seven families turned to the renowned aviation legal experts at Clifford Law Offices to help them navigate the repercussions of this catastrophic event and seek reasoning and accountability for this horrific event.

    Robert A. Clifford, founder and senior partner of Clifford Law Offices, recommended the families of the crash victims file a lawsuit as soon as possible and two weeks after the crash, he did so on their behalf. Not only did filing a lawsuit send a message to all of the parties involved that the families meant business, but it also meant that they had a chance to participate in obtaining answers from the beginning. They had the right to be informed and stay informed.

    Directly following the crash, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) deployed teams of investigators to examine the crash to determine its cause. NTSB investigators boarded Coast Guard ships, Navy vessels, and private boats that combed for debris in a four-mile-wide search for clues and remains.

    Meanwhile, Clifford Law Offices hired aviation experts to look into the design of the aircraft, examine previous problems with that particular model, and identify the various parts that could have been defective. The plane was an MD-83 aircraft built in 1992, and manufactured by McDonnell Douglas, which later became a part of Boeing. The Clifford Law Offices aviation team took more than 100 depositions from engineers and designers from McDonnell Douglas and Boeing to help understand the details that led to the loss of so many lives.

    After three years of questioning and investigation by the firm, it was determined that the plane’s horizontal stabilizer had jammed, causing the plane to go into an uncontrollable dive. Mounted on the tail of the plane, the stabilizer controls the pitch of the nose and keeps it from heading downward. A jackscrew, relatively small compared to the size of this large aircraft, had caused an enormous and avoidable loss of life. The aircraft had clearance to make an emergency landing in Los Angeles, but it did not do so. Flight 261 plunged 20,000 feet into the Pacific Ocean about 20 miles north of Los Angeles International Airport near Point Mugu.

    The thorough work of the Clifford Law Offices aviation team, and depositions of Alaska Airlines employees, Boeing employees, and various experts, led by firm partner Kevin P. Durkin, resulted in Boeing stipulating a liability judgment against the aviation manufacturer.

    Ultimately, the firm recovered $40 million in a settlement on behalf of the seven families who lost loved ones aboard Alaska Airlines Flight 261 and provided some answers as to what caused this aviation disaster to occur, and who was ultimately responsible.