Star Marianas, 2 others want plane crash suit dismissed


Star Marianas Air Inc. and two other companies are asking the federal court to dismiss the lawsuit filed against them by passengers of a plane that crashed at the Francisco C. Ada-Saipan International Airport in 2012, which killed one and injured five others.

Star Marianas Inc., Marianas Air Transfer Inc., and Tinian Travel Management Solutions Inc. asked the U.S. District Court for the NMI to dismiss the lawsuit filed by passengers Xiuzhong Zhu, Meilin Zhou, and Xiaohua Zhou, who were all injured in the crash.

Another passenger, Xin Hong, agreed to settle the matter. Xiaojie Ge, a representative of passenger Weilian Lu who was killed in the crash and Lu’s minor daughter, Y. Ge, has also agreed to settle the case.

Attorneys Timothy H. Bellas and Jonathan Harriman are counsels for Star Marianas, Marianas Air Transfer, and Tinian Travel Management.

The seven-passenger Piper PA-32 Cherokee Six crash landed into the trees north of the Saipan airport runway on Nov. 19, 2012, killing Weilian Lu and injuring the pilot and four other passengers. The plane was operated by Star Marianas Air, chartered by Marianas Air Travel, and maintained by Tinian Management Solutions.

In their motion to dismiss, Bellas and Harriman asserted that the entire complaint against Marianas Air Travel should be dismissed because it is shielded from liability by law and the plaintiffs’ Commonwealth claims have already been decided by the federal court.

Marianas Air Travel, the lawyers said, is entitled to dismissal of these claims because the company had no control over the plane in question other than as its lessor.

Bellas and Harriman said plaintiffs’ Montreal Convention claims against Marianas Air Travel and Tinian Travel Management are subject to dismissal because the Convention only applies to air carriers. The Montreal Convention governs the relationship between the carriers and passengers.

The lawyers said the plaintiffs have already been given two opportunities to amend their complaints to rectify insufficient and improper pleadings.

These repeated pleading failures, they argue, demonstrate that there is no evidence to support these claims and that plaintiffs cannot assert viable causes of action against Marianas Air Travel or Tinian Travel Management.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at

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