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4th Suit Filed Over Alaska Airlines Crash

March 11, 2000

LOS ANGELES — A fourth wrongful death lawsuit stemming from the crash of Alaska Airlines Flight 261 was filed in Los Angeles on Friday, this one by the family of a Mexican on her way to visit sisters in the San Francisco Bay area.

Relatives of Gabriela Chavez Garcia de Estrada filed the federal suit against the airline and the Boeing Co., which bought the firm that manufactured the plane.

Estrada, a 33-year-old Mary Kay cosmetics sales representative from Puerto Vallarta, left a husband and 9-year-old daughter.

"This case is not about the money," said the family's Santa Monica attorney, Brian Panish, who last summer won a $4.9-billion settlement against General Motors in an unrelated product liability case. "This case is about safety for airlines, and safety for passengers, and the procedures that Alaska Airlines adopted to save money and not ground a plane that should have been grounded."

The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court alleges that the MD-83 aircraft was defective and unreasonably dangerous.

Boeing spokesman John Dern said he had not seen the lawsuit and could not comment on it. "We're continuing to support the investigation just as we've done since the accident," he said.

Alaska Airlines officials could not be reached for comment.

The suit alleges that Alaska's policy and procedures for emergency landings contributed to the Jan. 31 crash.

All 88 people aboard the flight died when the jet plunged into the Pacific Ocean near Anacapa Island after pilots encountered trouble with its horizontal stabilizer.

Three similar lawsuits have been filed against the airline in the United States by the families of U.S. victims.

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