A US law firm said Wednesday it has started "multi-million dollar" legal proceedings against Malaysia Airlines and Boeing over flight MH370, in what could mark the start of an expensive legal battle over the lost plane.
Chicago-based Ribbeck Law Chartered International said it filed a court petition in the US state of Illinois on Tuesday, seeking documents pertaining to possible design or mechanical defects or conduct by the airline that may have led to the disaster.
"We believe that both defendants named are responsible for the disaster of Flight MH370," the firm said in a statement released in Kuala Lumpur.
"It is extremely important for the victims we represent that all responsible parties are brought to justice without exceptions," the statement said, quoting its head of aviation litigation Monica Kelly.
The "petition for discovery" filed Tuesday seeks potential evidence from the opposing party in any lawsuit.
The law firm said families "have initiated a multimillion dollar litigation process", but did not say specify how much in damages may be sought in the future.
The legal action was filed on behalf of Januari Siregar, "a lawyer who lost his son in the terrible crash", the firm said. It gave no further details on the plaintiff.
"We must find what caused the aircraft to crash and demand that the problems with the airline and the aircraft's design and manufacturing are immediately resolved to avoid future tragedies," Kelly said.
Ground contact with the Beijing-bound flight was lost somewhere over the Gulf of Thailand, shortly after it took off from Kuala Lumpur on March 8 with 239 people aboard.
Malaysia believes it was deliberately diverted and said Monday that an analysis of satellite data indicates the plane crashed into the southern Indian Ocean, far from its original path.
But no wreckage has been found there despite several days of searching by a fleet of ships and planes from a number of countries. No evidence has publicly emerged to indicate what caused the plane to divert.
Many of the next-of-kin of MH370 passengers, particularly Chinese relatives, have been frustrated with the failure to determine what befell the plane and angrily accuse the flag carrier and the Malaysian government of incompetence and withholding information.
Two-thirds of the 227 passengers were Chinese.