Children of San Francisco policeman sue Alaska Airlines over crash

Posted: Wednesday, March 01, 2000

SAN FRANCISCO -- Three children of a retired San Francisco police officer who was killed in the Alaska Airlines Flight 261 crash have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the airline and against Boeing, the plane's manufacturer.

Retired Officer Karl Karlson's children filed the suit Tuesday in U.S. District Court here, arguing that Alaska Airlines mechanics improperly maintained the MD-83 plane, and that manufacturer Boeing used shoddy quality control on its assembly line.

The crash Jan. 31 in the Pacific Ocean off Southern California killed all 88 people aboard, including Karlson's wife, Carol, stepmother of the plaintiffs.

''This entire tragedy could have been avoided,'' said attorney Niall McCarthy, who filed the suit on behalf of 23-year-old Cory Karlson of Petaluma, 31-year-old Lisa Champion of Ukiah and Julie Serrano, 27, of Medford, Ore. ''There were numerous warning signs that were available. Tragically, all the warning signs were ignored.''

Alaska Airlines spokesman Jack Evans said the company would not comment on the lawsuit immediately because ''we are still grieving ourselves and are doing everything we can to assist grieving family members.''

Boeing spokesman Russ Young said he was confident the company's quality control procedures were not the cause of the crash. McDonnell Douglas built the plane in 1992. Boeing bought McDonnell Douglas in 1997.

''Every plane we deliver is certified by the Federal Aviation Administration, and if we don't meet their standards, or our own standards, or the standards of our customers, then that plane won't be delivered,'' Young said.

Karlson, 51, and his wife were returning from a vacation in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. The plane's pilots had reported problems with the horizontal stabilizer and were trying to correct them when the aircraft spiraled into the ocean. Authorities have now identified the remains of 52 people.

The Karlson children's lawsuit is the third filed so far by families of crash victims. Last week, the family of Juan Marquez filed a wrongful death suit, and on Feb. 13, Julie Friedmann, whose husband died in the crash, contended that Alaska pilots did not take all possible measures to make an emergency landing.

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