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MH370 victims’ case against AGCS moved

A US court has consolidated a case in which the families of those killed in the Malaysia Airlines MH370 disaster are suing Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty (AGCS) and its global head of aviation Henning Haagen.

In an order made last week the case - which was first lodged in a New York district court - was moved to a court in Washington DC where a number of other filings related to the crash are being heard.

In the complaint, the relatives of at least 44 of the people killed after the plane disappeared from flight radars over the Indian Ocean in 2014 have said the insurer was liable for compensation payments.

The suit follows a complex reorganisation of the Malaysia Airlines ownership structure, which the claimants have alleged leaves AGCS as the one of the only companies legally responsible for the disasters.

During 2014, the Malaysian government's wholly-owned fund Khazanah Nasional Berhad informed the airline's then-parent Malaysia Airlines Systems that it was considering delisting the company.

Specifically, it was "proposing the privatisation" of Malaysia Airlines Systems "by way of a selective capital reduction and repayment exercise".

The families of the victims claim that they were given no notice about the "planned looting" of the company's assets nor the "gutting", "delisting" and "death" of the corporate entity.

The complaint said Malaysia Airlines Systems "intended to leave the passengers of MH370 with no recourse other than the Allianz policy", quoting from one of the airline's earning releases.

The privatisation of the company took effect at the end of 2014, just a month before the Malaysian government officially confirmed the deaths of all those aboard the flight.

The plaintiffs argue that the Malaysian law - which put the privatisation into effect - does not extend to the US, where the complaint was first filed in a New York district court.

Despite repeated denials by the airline, the claimants alleged that the airline's new parent Malaysia Airlines Berhad is a successor to Malaysia Airlines Systems.

It claims that the leadership team is almost identical and that both companies used the same trademark, Malaysia Airlines.

"Even the Twitter accounts are identical for the alleged two Malaysia Airlines, both using the handle @MAS," the complaint stated.

However, if the court finds that the Malaysian law does extend to the US it would mean that the former parent has "died and has ceased to exist", the victims' families alleged.

The complaint said: "There is no entity other than the estate of [Malaysia Airlines Systems] consisting of the [Malaysia Airlines Systems] aviation liability insurance policy, which is legally represented by [AGCS] and Henning Haagen, the self-described global head of aviation."

It added that AGCS had included the MH370 disaster in its Global Loss Atlas, concluding: "Therefore AGCS and Haagen admit they are responsible for the aviation liability insurance of [Malaysia Airlines Systems]."

The lawsuit, which was first filed in April before its location was moved, claimed that the insurer was liable for damages for the physical and emotional harm suffered by the passengers on the plane.

It also claimed that the insurer was liable for damages to the families including loss of earnings, loss of love, loss of solace and loss of familial care.

They have requested a jury trial in the case, which has now been transferred.

The complaint also makes reference to MH17, which was shot down over Ukraine while flying at 33,000 feet on 17 July 2014.

It claimed that the pilots had rejected a request by Ukraine Air Control to climb by 2,000 feet and that the plane had strayed from the centreline of its appointed track.

The filing said that after warnings from the aviation regulator a number of airlines had ceased to fly over the country while, it alleged, Malaysia Airlines continued to fly over the "risky" area.

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