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83 Asiana crash survivors plan to sue airline, Boeing

Josh Edelson / AFP - Getty Images

A Boeing 777 operated by Asiana Airlines crash-landed July 6 at San Francisco International Airport.

Eighty-three survivors of the crash of Asiana Flight 214 this month have taken the first step toward suing the airline and the plane's manufacturer.

A Chicago law firm filed court documents Monday demanding that Boeing Co., which made the 777 airliner that crashed July 6 in San Francisco, turn over all of the plane's design, manufacturing and maintenance records. The petition was filed in Cook County Circuit Court in Chicago, where Boeing has its headquarters.

The so-called discovery petition is the first step toward litigation on behalf of 82 Chinese passengers and one American who survived the crash, which killed three people and injured 182 others.

The law firm, Ribbeck Law Chartered, which specializes in aviation cases, said it was starting with Boeing and would file further petitions in the next few days against Asiana itself, as well as manufacturers of several of the plane's components.

Boeing told NBC News it had no comment.

The petition filed Monday focuses on the plane's automated throttle, seat belt and emergency evacuation systems.

The National Transportation Safety Board has said its reviews of Flight 214's automated throttles showed "no anomalous behavior."

But the NTSB also said flight data indicated that the plane's automated systems recorded multiple unexplained "autopilot and autothrottle modes" as it approached San Francisco.

Investigators said the plane was flying about 40 mph too slow for a safe landing. 

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It also remains unclear why the plane's evacuation chutes prematurely opened inside the cabin, when they're supposed to open outward.

Monica Kelly, head of Ribbeck's aviation practice, said in a statement that the firm would "leave no stone unturned" in trying to answer those questions independently. She said its investigation would be led by Max Vermij, a former chief investigator for the Transportation Safety Board of Canada.

Meanwhile, Asiana has dropped plans to sue a Bay Area TV station after it broadcast fake and racially insensitive names of the pilots of the flight. KTVU said it had vetted the names with the NTSB before the broadcast, but apologized and took full responsibility for the error.

The airlines said it had decided to not pursue legal action in light of the station's public apology "and to keep all of its resources dedicated to caring for the passengers and family members of Asiana flight 214 and supporting the investigation into the cause of the accident," a statement said.

Nadine Comerford of NBC News contributed to this report.


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