Flight 103 Victim’s Family, Estate And Another Customer Sue Pan Am
NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (AP) _ A group including the parents of a Pan Am bombing victim sued the airline today, contending it collected a $5-per-ticket surcharge for security on international flights but never spent the money to protect passengers.
Among those filing suit against Pan American World Airways were Peter and Aphrodite Tsairis, parents of Alexia Tsairis, who died when Pan Am Flight 103 exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland, Dec. 21, 1988.
Richard A. Grossman, an attorney handling the case, said the lawsuit was intended to be a class action for customers who purchased Pan Am tickets from 1986 until 1989.
″Damages could amount to over $100 million, with more than a million passengers in line for refunds plus punitive damages,″ he said. ″The truth is that these passengers paid for something they did not get. That something was effective security.″
The crash of the Boeing 747 killed 259 passengers and crew, and 11 people on the ground.
Besides the Tsairises of Franklin Lakes, also part of filing suit was T. Jennifer Vail of Wilmington, Del., and Miss Tsairis’ estate. Named as defendants were Pan Am Corp.; Pan American World Airways Inc.; Pan American World Services Inc.; Alert Management Systems Inc.; C. Edward Acker, a former president and chief executive officer of the corporation; and Martin E. Shugrue Jr., a former vice chairman of the corporation and chief executive officer of Pan Am World Airways, Grossman said.
Ms. Vail is a customer of Pan Am seeking reimbursement of the surcharges.
″She’s a representative of the group, in effect,″ said Grossman.
A message left with Pamela Hanlon, a spokeswoman for Pan Am in New York, was not immediately returned.
Grossman said other targets of the suit were former board members and officers of the corporation. There names were not available before the suit was filed, he said.
Grossman said Pan Am has acknowledged collecting $18 million in surcharges.
He said the airline’s own security expert, Isaac Yeffet, told Pan Am officials almost two years before the Flight 103 crash that the carrier’s security was ″almost totally ineffectual″ and that leveling a surcharge ″could be regarded as fraud.″
The lawsuit said Pan Am ignored Yeffet’s call for sweeping changes in the airline’s security system, yet continued to impose the $5 surcharge. Yeffet was previously head of security at El Al Airlines in Israel, the lawyer said.