German airline giant Lufthansa has outraged relatives of people who died in a plane crash of its subsidiary four years ago with a controversial denial of compensation, reports say.
In March 2015, severely depressed co-pilot Andreas Lubitz intentionally crashed a Germanwings plane with 150 passengers on board in a remote area of the French Alps. The families of the victims still seek damages for pain and suffering from the parent company – Lufthansa.
The latter, however, has no plans to pay them, according to several local media outlets. They report that the airline issued a letter arguing that the relatives are not entitled to compensation because the people on board the doomed flight did not suffer from death anxiety.
In Germany, moral injury compensation in such cases is partly based on the extent of suffering the victims had to endure before death. The company apparently seeks to prove that their death was quick and unexpected by saying that the passengers hardly noticed the plane sweeping down. In a 120-page document seen by German WDR, Lufthansa’s lawyers are demanding the regional court in the city of Essen dismiss the plaintiffs’ claims for this reason.
Their position has outraged the relatives of the victims. They argue that it is clear the passengers were aware that “something terrible is happening” and feared for their lives. Before the crash, Lubitz locked the pilot out of the cockpit, and he was desperately knocking on the door to get back in – and that was something the passengers must have heard.
“The term ‘torture’ is insufficient to describe” what these people have gone through, Elmar Giemulla, a lawyer representing the relatives of 40 crash victims, told the German media. As the plane rushed to the ground, they must have been aware that their “last minutes of life are coming.”
Klaus Radner, who lost his daughter and her husband in the crash, lashed out at Lufthansa, decrying its letter as “shameful.”
Initially, Germanwings and the relatives of the victims agreed upon compensation amounting to €25,000 per victim. Now, the families of those who died in the crash are demanding €25,000 more as compensation for moral injury from Lufthansa. A court hearing is expected sometime this autumn.
The 2015 tragedy sparked a scandal as it was revealed that Lubitz was suffering from acute depression and insomnia, and was diagnosed with a mental disorder and referred to a psychiatric clinic just weeks before the crash but was still allowed to fly the plane.
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