Travel agency’s lawsuit against Star Marianas dismissed

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SUPERIOR Court Associate Judge Joseph N. Camacho has dismissed the complaint of a China-based travel agency that sued Star Marianas Air Inc. or SMA in connection with a plane crash on Oct. 6, 2013.

Three of the passengers were severely injured and one died.  The four booked travel through agents in China associated with the travel agency.

Foshan Tianning International Travel Ltd., through attorney Bruce Berline filed a lawsuit against SMA in Superior Court for common law indemnification on Aug. 6, 2018.

Common law indemnification is a court-created doctrine that allows a defendant to make another party pay for a plaintiff's damages for which the defendant was found liable.

Foshan asked the court to award the company an unspecified amount of damages including legal fees and costs.

Judge Camacho, in an order on Friday, stated that Foshan failed to state a basis for vicarious liability, adding that he was granting SMA’s motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim.

In the complaint, Foshan stated that as a result of SMA’s negligence, the plaintiff had been held vicariously liable and was required to pay a total of 2,677,298.56 yuan, which was equivalent to $423,817.70.

Foshan added that it is without fault in the crash, and absent a relationship with SMA it would not be liable for damages in anyway. 

Foshan said it had been held vicariously liable for damages suffered as a result of the crash, adding that its vicarious liability is the direct and proximate result of SMA’s active and affirmative conduct.

Foshan said it is entitled to complete indemnification by SMA for all sums for which Foshan has been held liable in relation to the crash, plus costs of defense, cost of suit, and reasonable attorney’s fees incurred.

Judge Camacho, however, stated that the complaint failed to specify what type of relationship, if any, allegedly existed between Foshan and SMA.

The judge, in the 10-page order, also found that the complaint failed to state whether the alleged lawsuits in China extinguished any liability payable by SMA to the passengers involved in the crash. 

According to the lawsuit, the four passengers made their initial booking through Zheijiang Waihai Star International Travel Co. Ltd., which contracted with Everbright International Travel Co., Ltd. to make travel arrangements for the Waihai customers.

Everbright, in turn, contracted Foshan for arranging flight tickets, itinerary, accommodations, and other local arrangements.

Foshan, for its part, in turn contracted Saipan Travel to make travel arrangements in Saipan and Tinian. Saipan Travel arranged for air transportation for its customers between Tinian and Saipan as part of prearranged tour packages.

Lei Wang, one of the injured passengers, filed suit in China on Oct. 21, 2014 against Waihai for compensation for her injuries suffered in the plane crash.

Foshan was found to be liable to Waihai for indemnification and it made payment to Lei Wang in the amount of 1,065,680.40 yuan or about $150,000.

Pengliang Cai, another passenger, also sued Waihai for damages resulting from injuries suffered in the plane crash.

Cai also prevailed in the lawsuit, and Waihai was ordered to pay 410,603.30 yuan or about $58,000 plus a processing fee of 7,459 yuan or about $1,000.

On Oct. 21, 2014, the three injured passengers in the crash filed a lawsuit against Waihai for the death of a fourth passenger, Zhang Xiao Lei, who was related to the three.

The three prevailed and Waihai was ordered to pay them 785, 616.50 yuan or over $111,000 plus a case processing fee of 12,271 yuan or over $1,700.

On Oct. 8, 2016 Waihai filed a lawsuit against Everbright in China for indemnification. Waihai prevailed and Everbright was ordered to pay Waihai 1,067,126.16 yuan or over $151,000 representing Waihai’s liability to the passengers in the crash minus Foshan’s advanced payments.

On March 23, 2016, China Union Property Insurance Co. or CUPIC filed suit against Foshan and Everbright to recover funds paid out as a result of the plane crash.

CUPIC prevailed and Foshan and Everbright were held jointly and severally liable to pay CUPIC 500,000 yuan or over $70,000 plus processing fee of 8,800 yuan or over $1,200.

Everbright filed suit against Foshan in China to recover costs incurred as a result of litigation related to the crash and seeks compensation in the amount of 1,102,818.16 yuan or over $156,000. 

November 2020 pssnewsletter

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