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Korean law may apply to crash in Guam

Posted August. 11, 2000 11:10,   


A U.S. court has revealed that a set of Korean laws rather than U.S. laws would be applied for lawsuits brought on by 140 plaintiff families of the victims of the Korean Air crash in Guam in August 1997.

The plaintiffs have refused earlier out-of-court settlement offers by the airline.

The U.S. court also revealed that the amount of compensation would be determined by precedents in the Korean court system, which would place the damage claims at a bare minimum.

An important issue in the case had been the question of which nation`s set of laws to use, and the decision means a huge difference in the amount of compensatory damages.

In contrast to the US$3 million settlement accepted by 20 families of victims, the plaintiffs of the ongoing lawsuit could receive compensation amounts of about US$50,000.

However, there is a great deal of controversy on the validity of applying Korean laws and precedents in a U.S. court.

It was confirmed August 10 that Judge Harry Hupp of the Federal Court in California sent a minute order for the application of the Korean compensation law to the lawyers of the plaintiffs and the defendants -- the U.S. government and KAL -- of the case on July 21.

"It appears highly probable that the laws of Korea will apply to the damage claims of the Korean plaintiffs against the defendants in this case," the judge wrote.

He added that the U.S. court also would use the Korean court practice of utilizing precedents in its determination of the compensation amounts. In the past, Korean courts have awarded damages for deaths at around US$30,000 to US$50,000. However, Hupp further revealed that the final decision for the application of Korean laws would be made August 28 after the lawyers of both sides make arguments.