Hamm In an appeal procedure for additional compensation for pain and suffering, the survivors of the Germanwings crash more than six years ago again came away empty-handed. The Higher Regional Court (OLG) Hamm rejected the appeal of three plaintiffs on Tuesday, who had demanded additional compensation for pain and suffering of 30,000 euros each from the parent company Lufthansa for themselves and other relatives. The OLG thus confirmed the judgment of the Essen Regional Court, which had rejected the relatives’ claims for damages in the summer of 2020.
Already in the oral hearing in the afternoon, the OLG judges spoke of a “very clear reasoning for the judgment” of the lower court. The argument in the first judgment that medical surveillance is a sovereign task of the state is conclusive. In this respect, Lufthansa is not the right addressee if you want to assert omissions by the aviation doctors. Rather, the federal government is the right opponent. Because its authority, the Luftfahrtbundesamt, is responsible for checking the airworthiness.
The judges compared the flight doctors with TÜV experts who, with their work for the approval of only safe vehicles in road traffic, also perform state tasks. In addition, the damage suffered by the surviving dependents was not presented specifically and differentiated enough for each individual case to justify a claim. “As tragic as the catastrophe is, we are obliged to decide according to the law,” said the presiding judge during the hearing in the direction of the visibly disappointed relatives.
Plaintiffs accuse flight physicians of misconduct
On March 24, 2015, according to the investigation, the co-pilot, who previously suffered from depression, had deliberately steered the aircraft into a mountain in the French Alps. All 150 inmates were killed. The plaintiffs accuse Lufthansa that the flight medics commissioned by it did not work thoroughly enough during the regular examinations of the co-pilot for airworthiness.
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They would have ignored evidence of the man’s previous depressive illness and failed to recognize his serious mental illness. “If the medical professionals had taken their task seriously, the disaster would most likely not have happened because he was no longer allowed to fly,” said plaintiff lawyer Elmar Giemulla on the sidelines of the hearing.
Many victims come from North Rhine-Westphalia, including 16 students and two teachers from a high school in Haltern am See on the northern edge of the Ruhr area. The plaintiffs were therefore before the Essen regional court and now moved to Hamm. The verdict is not yet legally binding. The judges did not allow the appeal. However, the plaintiffs can lodge a complaint against this.
According to information from the survivors’ lawyers, another procedure is still pending in the first instance in Frankfurt. There it is about the claims of around 80 relatives – and a total of more than 3 million euros in damages.
More: End of the big Lufthansa plans: an airline giant is making itself small