Monday, January 30, 2017

Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman Files Lawsuit on Behalf of Two Americans Killed in Germanwings Flight 9525 Crash


January 30, 2017

Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman 
12100 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 950
Los Angeles, CA 90025
Contact: Robin McCall, Media Relations
Phone: (310) 207-3233 

Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman Files Lawsuit on Behalf of Two Americans Killed in Germanwings Flight 9525 Crash

Alexandria, Virginia, January 30, 2017 - - Los Angeles law firm Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman has filed a lawsuit on behalf of Raymond Selke and his son for the wrongful death of his beloved wife and daughter, who were tragically killed in the 2015 Germanwings Flight 9525 crash. Yvonne Selke and her daughter, Emily, were the only American residents aboard the ill-fated flight.

The wrongful death lawsuit (case number 1:17-cv-00121), filed today in United States District Court, Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division, names German corporations Deutsche Lufthansa AG, Germanwings GMBH and Eurowings GMBH, as well as United Airlines.

On March 24, 2015, Yvonne and Emily Selke boarded Germanwings Flight 9525, which was scheduled to fly from Barcelona, Spain to Düsseldorf, Germany. After the plane reached a cruising altitude of 38,000 feet, the flight captain excused himself to use the restroom. Alone at the controls, co-pilot Andreas Lubitz locked the cockpit doors and crashed the airliner into the French Alps, killing everyone onboard.

An investigation concluded that Lubitz caused the Germanwings 9525 crash by deliberately steering the airliner into mountainous terrain. Officials said Lubitz was able to lock the captain out of the cockpit because there was no policy in place requiring at least two crew members to be in the cockpit at all times. Such a policy has been in place in the United States for many years.

Mr. Selke’s claims are governed by the Montreal Convention, which allows for a lawsuit to be brought in the country where a carrier is domiciled or headquartered, where the contract of carriage was made, or where the plaintiff resides. 

The Montreal Convention applies to this case because United Airlines is headquartered in Chicago; because Yvonne and Emily Selke purchased their tickets for Germanwings Flight 9525 in Virginia, where they both lived; and because the United itinerary provided Dulles International Airport as the start and finish of the international trip.

Selke Family Statement

"At a time when the deep-seated pain of our losses has scarcely diminished, we believe that the actions of Lufthansa and its subsidiary Germanwings to evade responsibility for the crash of Germanwings Flight 4U9525 leaves us no choice but to pursue legal remedy in the United States. We ask that the media remain considerate of our family's peace and privacy during this trying process, and that all inquiries relating to this matter be directed to our attorneys at Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman PC in Los Angeles." 

Additional information:

Yvonne and Emily Selke initiated their trip to Spain and England on March 20, 2015 from Washington Dulles International Airport. On March 24, 2015, they boarded an Airbus A320-211 operating as Germanwings Flight 9525, which was scheduled to fly from Barcelona, Spain to Düsseldorf, Germany with 144 passengers and six flight crew members onboard. They planned on changing planes once in Germany, to board a flight to England.

Defendants Sued for Negligence

At the time of the March 24, 2015 Germanwings crash, the defendants were all part of the Star Alliance of airlines, which allowed Yvonne and Emily Selke to purchase international flights and itineraries through the United Airlines website.

As common carriers that take revenue from U.S. customers whilst promoting themselves as having the highest levels of safety, the defendants owed the passengers of Germanwings Flight 9525 a duty of utmost care and the vigilance for the safe transport of passengers, and to ensure that its aircraft is maintained and operated to the highest degree of safety and care.

According to the lawsuit, the defendants together negligently, carelessly and recklessly breached their duty of care to passengers by failing to maintain, operate, maneuver, handle, control, equip, manage, and pilot Germanwings Flight 9525, and by failing to properly and safely train, educate, prepare, inform, alert, monitor, guide or tutor its pilots, crew, and other personnel to operate a passenger aircraft.

The lawsuit further alleges that the defendants failed to have known policies in place that would have timely and safely responded to or prevented emergency situations, including an unattended sole crew member in the cockpit.

As a direct and proximate result of the defendants’ gross negligence, Yvonne and Emily Selke suffered unspeakable horrors before their lives were tragically cut short.

“Whether it be sudden pilot incapacitation, a rogue pilot, or a pilot allowed to fly with known mental conditions, like we have here, the airline industry has long been aware of the dangers associated with just one person in the cockpit.  U.S. airlines finally implemented the ‘two in the cockpit rule’ in 2001,” says attorney A. Ilyas Akbari, who is representing the Selke family. “Lufthansa and Germanwings’ choice to willfully ignore these dangers cost 150 people their lives.”

Mr. Akbari goes on to add, “When you partner with U.S. airlines, like United, and then profit from selling tickets to American residents, you should be held to account in U.S. courts when you injure or kill our residents. Germanwings and Lufthansa have refused to fully compensate the Selke family, arguing that there is no jurisdiction in U.S. courts in hopes to evade its responsibility. We have no choice but to now file this lawsuit.”

On August 15, 2016 the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) published a set of proposals, known as an “Opinion,” to the European Commission for an update of the rules concerning pilots’ medical fitness, as part of its Action Plan following the Germanwings Flight 9525 accident. On December 9, 2016 EASA published its proposed new operational rules. It is expected that sometime in 2017 the European Commission will adopt the EASA proposal and propose legislation based on the EASA’s Opinion, which will strengthen medical exams of pilots by including drugs and alcohol screening, comprehensive mental health assessment, as well as improved follow-up in case of developing medical and psychiatric conditions, among other things. 

About Yvonne Selke

Yvonne Selke grew up in Springfield Township, Pennsylvania. She graduated from Gannon University 1979 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology. While at Gannon, she enrolled in ROTC, was a George C. Marshall Award recipient, and was subsequently commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army.

Yvonne served her country in a number of increasingly important positions, both in the United States and abroad, attaining the rank of Major before opting for an early retirement to raise a family in 1992. Her military decorations included the Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, National Defense Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, and Armed Forces Reserve Medal.

After military service, Yvonne joined Booz-Allen Hamilton as a consultant on April 27, 1992, and worked at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency until her death.

About Emily Selke

Born in Virginia, Emily Selke graduated from Woodbridge High School Center for the Fine and Performing Arts, where she was a member of the Choir, Choir Counsel, Physics Club, Beta Club, and National Honor Society. In 2013, she graduated magna cum laude from Drexel University, where she was a member of the ZETA Chapter of the Gamma Sigma Sigma National Service Sorority.

After college, Emily spent a year working in support of various Music and Arts endeavors, including the Pittsburgh and Edinburgh Fringe Festivals, and the Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton, Virginia. She worked for Carr Workplaces as a Client Service Associate from January 2014 until her death, and had aspirations to become an event planner to establish and run, among other things, her own music festival.

About Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman

Baum Hedlund is representing Raymond Selke and his son in their lawsuit against Germanwings, Lufthansa, Eurowings and United Airlines. Known for its dedication to clients and success in complex cases, the firm has successfully recovered over $1.5 billion in wrongful death and personal injury claims stemming from commercial transportation accidents and defective pharmaceutical products.

The firm has litigated against some of the largest airlines in the world, including American Airlines, Asiana Airlines, Aero Mexico, China Eastern Airlines, Singapore Airlines, United Airlines, SwissAir, Delta Airlines, JetBlue, Southwest Airlines, Alaska Airlines and US Airways, among many others.

In over 40 years of aviation law practice, Baum Hedlund has represented more than 650 air crash victims and their families. We are supportive of our clients’ personal and emotional needs in the wake of aviation disasters, and have built a reputation for being relentless in our legal representation—fighting for truth, justice and accountability.

Robin McCall
Media Relations
Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman, PC

Los Angeles ● Philadelphia ● Washington, D.C.

Main Office
12100 Wilshire Blvd., Ste. 950
Los Angeles, CA  90025
(310) 207-3233

NTSB Identification: DCA15WA093
Accident occurred Tuesday, March 24, 2015 in Barcellonette, France
Aircraft: AIRBUS INDUSTRIE A320-211, registration:
Injuries: 150 Fatal.

The foreign authority was the source of this information.

The BEA of France has notified the NTSB of an accident involving a Airbus A320-211 airplane that occurred on March 24, 2015. The NTSB has appointed a U.S. Accredited Representative to assist the BEA's investigation under the provisions of ICAO Annex 13 as the State of Manufacturer and Design of the engines.

All investigative information will be released by the BEA-FR.

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