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Restitution Sought by Flight 261 Relatives

February 21, 2001

Families of 12 passengers killed in last year's Alaska Airlines crash are seeking millions of dollars from the Federal Aviation Administration.

In claims filed Tuesday in Washington, D.C., against the federal government, lawyers for the families said the FAA and the U.S. Department of Transportation were negligent in their oversight of the airline and failed to ensure compliance with certain regulations.

"They didn't do what they were supposed to do," said Paul Hedlund, a partner with Baum, Hedlund, Aristei, Guilford & Downey in Los Angeles. "This is a series of checks and balances. The government is supposed to provide a check, and it did not in this case."

FAA officials could not be reached for comment.

If the government denies the claims, the families intend to sue in federal court, Hedlund said. He declined to state the amount family members are seeking. Lawyer Mary Schiavo, a former inspector general for the Department of Transportation who in recent years has been a critic of the FAA, is assisting the firm with its case.

Alaska Airlines Flight 261 crashed eight miles off the coast of Port Hueneme in January 2000, killing the 88 passengers and crew members on board.

The National Transportation Safety Board has been investigating the crash and is expected to release a final report later this year. Lawsuits already have been brought against the airline and parts manufacturers.

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