Families of Flight 800 victims can sue for big damages, judge rules

NEW YORK (AP) — A judge said Tuesday that the TWA Flight 800 explosion did not occur on the “high seas,” a ruling that could make victims eligible for additional money in their lawsuit against the airline and the aircraft manufacturers.
Victims’ families say The Boeing Co., TWA and Hydoaire Inc. were negligent in the construction and operation of the Boeing 747 that exploded more than three nautical miles off the shore from New York, where it was taking off to Paris in July 1996.
The families of the 230 people who died are seeking millions of dollars
The defendants had asked U.S. District Judge Robert W. Sweet to limit damages to those allowed by the Death on the High Seas Act, which excludes damages for areas such as emotional stress and suffering. Sweet said the plane was not on the high seas, a boundary redefined in 1988 by President Reagan as 12 nautical miles from shore.
In a statement, TWA said the ruling does not impact its liability limit under the Warsaw Convention, a treaty on international air travel that imposes a $75,000 cap on any passenger’s damages.
The judge said he has yet to decide what damages would apply in this case.