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Family sues airline for daughter’s death in plane downed by Iran

Following an $84 million award to families of a handful of passengers who died in the Ukraine International Airlines plan struck down in Iran, another family is seeking justice.

SAN DIEGO (CN) — The family of a 23-year-old San Diego-based psychology student killed in 2020 when Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps struck down a Ukraine International Airlines plane sued the airline Thursday for their sister and daughter’s death.

Sara Saadat was one of 176 people onboard UIA Flight PS752 from Tehran to Kyiv on Jan. 8, 2020, when it was struck down three minutes after takeoff by two missiles launched by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.

Addas Saadat and Armin Rei Collosi, Sara Saadat’s father and brother, respectively, claim in a 13-page lawsuit UIA negligently dispatched the flight even as tensions had mounted in the days following a U.S. military drone strike Jan. 3, 2020, that killed Iranian Major General Qasem Soleimani — carried out in an effort to thwart planned attacks on U.S. embassies in the Middle East.

The family seeks unspecified damages for violations of the Warsaw and Montreal treaties governing international air travel, to which the U.S. and Ukraine are signatories.

Their lawsuit comes on the heels of an $84 million award announced Monday by a Canadian court for the families of six passengers who died on the flight.

Most of the passengers aboard the flight — 130 people — had ties to Canada. In their lawsuit, the Saadat family noted Sara was to connect in Kyiv to another UIA flight bound for Toronto before making her way to San Diego.

Iran did not defend itself in the Canadian lawsuit, resulting in a default judgment the families plan to enforce by seizing Iranian assets located in Canada and abroad, including oil tankers,.

According to the Saadat family’s lawsuit, “UIA operated the fatal flight despite numerous warnings of the unsafe skies over Iran.”

“The situation became critical a few hours before UIA Flight PS752 when Iran launched missiles against U.S. troops at the Al Asad airbase in Iraq — the second such missile attack in five days, and after the U.S. president warned Iran of a ‘very fast and very hard’ response should U.S. interests in the region be attacked,” the family says in the lawsuit.

UIA had ample warning skies directly over the airport were unsafe, the family says.

More than two hours before Flight PS752 left the gate, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration issued an emergency order prohibiting U.S. operators from flying over the airspace of Iraq and Iran “due to heightened military activities and increased political tensions in the Middle East.”

While the order was binding for U.S. air carriers and commercial operators, it was immediately available to all air crews around the world.

“In the circumstances of open and aggressive hostility between the U.S., Iran and other countries that existed in the days and hours leading up to the flight, UIA and the flight crew, for whom UIA is responsible, should have cancelled the flight, and their failure to do so was negligent, or in the alternative, an act of willful misconduct which directly resulted in the deaths of the passengers and damages to the plaintiffs,” the family claims in the lawsuit.

The Saadat family is represented by Beverly Hills-based attorney John Kristensen with Carpenter & Zuckerman. Kristensen and UIA did not return requests for comment by press time.

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