Illinois Circuit Court Dismisses Malaysia Airlines Petition on Point of Law

A Cook County Circuit Court judge has dismissed two discovery petitions filed in her court over the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.
The Rule 224 discovery petitions were filed prior to expected wrongful death lawsuits against Boeing and Malaysia Airlines. Boeing, based in Chicago, built the missing 777. A Chicago law firm filed the petition on behalf of Januari Siregar, an attorney who claims to be the uncle of Firman Siregar, one of the passengers on the plane, and the legal representative for the family.

However, Judge Kathy Flanagan stated that the filing was improper and warned that the court would impose sanctions on the firm if it made a similar filing again. A Supreme Court Rule 224 petition, the judge said, is to be used only to ascertain the identity of a defendant. When at least one potential defendant can be identified, then a lawsuit should be filed (rather than a pre-lawsuit petition).

Even if it had been properly filed, the lawsuit would have faced questions about the plaintiff’s status. According to the Wall Street Journal, a confirmed spokesman for the family of Firman Siregar said that Januari Siregar is a “distant relative” of the man listed as a passenger on the missing plane and is not authorized to represent the family. The Chicago Tribune reported that a spokesman for Firman Siregar’s father stated that the Chicago law firm did not have authorization from him to take legal action.

Also according to the Tribune, the law firm first issued a press release stating that Januari Siregar was Firman Siregar’s father, then issued a corrected press release stating that he was his uncle.

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