Two U.S. attorneys seeking to get involved in the legal proceedings around missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 are about to have their own day in court. Judge Hanipah binti Farikullah told Steven C. Marks and Roy Kalman Altman to turn in their paperwork Friday so she could make a decision on their joining the lawsuit from relatives of MH370 victims, the Star Online reported.
More than 230 people were on board MH370 when it vanished en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing in March 2014. The next-of-kin of 32 of them have banded together to file a lawsuit arguing the presumed crash of the plane and deaths of their loved ones resulted from the airline's negligence, according to Free Malaysia Today.
The family members first asked for Marks and Altman to help represent them in August. The group of relatives said they needed the Americans' aviation knowledge to help them win their civil case.
"There are no other lawyers in Malaysia with such expertise and experience in handling aviation matters," the New Straits Times reported attorney Michael Yap said at the time.
Marks, a lawyer in Miami, has previously worked on cases from airline accidents like American Airlines Flight 331, which overran the runway in Jamaica in 2009, and SilkAir Flight 185, which killed 104 people in Indonesia in 1997, according to his firm's website. His colleague Altman is representing the next-of-kin of passengers who died in the Germanwings Flight 9525 crash in France in 2015 as well as the family of Phillip Wood, one of the American MH370 victims.
The Malaysian lawyers defending the airline, Hoe Mei Lei and P. Rutharakumaran, have fought back, claiming that their country has good enough lawyers to choose from.
The judge will make the final call on whether the duo can appear on the families' behalf next week.
Dozens of MH370-related lawsuits have been filed, but this — in which 76 relatives are seeking damages — is the largest. It wasn't immediately clear how much money they were requesting, but in a similar suit, relatives asked for up to $1.2 million per victim, the Indian Express reported.
A third piece of debris was conclusively linked to the mysterious plane last week. The Australian Transport Safety Bureau, which is leading the sweep for wreckage, announced that a wing part found in Mauritius came from MH370, CNN reported.
"It does not, however, provide information that can be used to determine a specific location of the aircraft," transport minister Darren Chester said in an Oct. 7 statement. "The search for MH370 is continuing and we remain hopeful the aircraft will be located."