Over fatal 2013 plane crash on Tinian
A China-based travel agency is suing Star Marianas Air Inc. over a plane crash on Tinian in 2013 that killed three persons, including its pilot, and injured four others.
Foshan Tianning International Travel Ltd., through Bruce Berline, is suing Star Marianas for common law indemnification.
Under common law indemnification, a party—in this case Foshan—must prove that it is entirely without fault and that Star Marianas is responsible for the damages claimed.
Foshan asked the Superior Court to hold Star Marianas liable to pay damages and court costs.
Star Marianas flies aircraft between Tinian and Saipan. On Oct. 6, 2013, a Star Marianas flight took off from Tinian and crashed before reaching Saipan, killing the pilot and two passengers, and injuring four passengers.
Berline stated in the complaint that three of the injured passengers and one passenger who died in the crash were customers who booked travel through agents in China associated with Foshan.
Berline said the four passengers made their initial booking through Zheijiang Waihai Star International Travel Co. Ltd. (Waihai).
Waihai contracted with other companies in China and on Saipan to provide for the transportation and accommodations sold to customers in China.
Berline said Waihai contracted with Everbright International Travel Col. Ltd. to make travel arrangements for Waihai customers.
Everbright in turn contracted Foshan, with Foshan responsible for arranging flight tickets, local itinerary, accommodations, and other local travel arrangements.
Berline said Foshan in turn contracted with Saipan Travel to make travel arrangements on Saipan and Tinian.
Based on a contract/agreement between Saipan Travel, Star Marianas and other entities, Saipan Travel arranged for air transportation for its customers between Tinian and Saipan as part of pre-arranged tour packages.
Lei Wang, one of the injured passengers, sued Waihai in China on Oct. 21, 2014.
Berline said Foshan was determined to be liable to Waihai for indemnification and paid Lei Wang 1,065,680 yuan as an advance settlement.
Lei Wang later prevailed in her lawsuit against Waihai. Waihai was ordered to pay Lei Wang 980,463 yuan plus a case processing fee of 13,605 yuan.
On Oct. 21, 2014, another passenger in the crash, Penglian Cai, sued Waihai. Berline said Penglian Cai also prevailed.
Waihai was ordered to pay Pengliang Cai 410,603 yuan plus a case processing fee of 7,459 yuan.
On Oct. 21, 2014, the three injured passengers in the crash also sued Waihai for the death of a fourth passenger, Zhang Xiaolei, who was related to the first three.
Berline said the three passengers prevailed in this lawsuit, and Waihai was ordered to pay them 785,616 yuan plus a case processing fee of 12,217 yuan.
On Oct. 8, 2016, Waihai sued Everbright in China for indemnification.
Waihai prevailed and Everbright was ordered to pay Waihia 1,067,126 yuan, representing Waihai’s liability to the passengers in the crash minus Foshan’s advance payments.
Berline said that, in March 2016, the China Union Property Insurance Co. Ltd. filed suit against Foshan and Everbright to recover funds paid out as a result of the crash.
CUPIC prevailed. Foshan and Everbright were held liable to pay to CUPIC 500,000 yuan plus a case processing fee of 8,800 yuan.
Everbright filed suit against Foshan to recover costs incurred as a result of litigation related to the crash on April 21, 2017. This lawsuit filed in China seeks compensation in the amount of 1,102,818 yuan.
Thus, Berline said, as a result of Star Marianas’ negligence, Foshan has been held liable and required to pay 2,677,298 yuan, or approximately $423,817.
Berline said that since Foshan is only vicariously liable to the injured passengers for Star Marianas’ negligence, Foshan is entitled to indemnification from Star Marianas.
“Foshan is without fault in regards to the crash, and, absent its relationship with defendant, would not be liable for damages in any way,” the lawyer said.
Berline said because of the relationship between Foshan and defendant, Foshan has been held vicariously liable for damages suffered as a result of the crash.
As a result, Berline said, his client is entitled to complete indemnification by defendant for all sums for which plaintiff has been held liable in relation to the crash, plus costs of defense, costs of suit, and attorneys’ fees incurred.