Brazilian judge orders Air France to pay more than $1M to French crash victim’s family

Friday, March 12, 2010

Brazilian judge awards $1M in Air France suit

SAO PAULO — A Brazilian judge has ordered Air France to pay the equivalent of more than $1 million in damages to the family of one of the victims of last year’s crash that killed more than 200 people, officials said Friday.

Judge Mauro Nicolau Junior ordered Air France to pay 2 million reals ($1.2 million) in damages to the family of Marcelle Valpacos Fonseca, a Brazilian state prosecutor who was among the 228 people who died in the Rio-to-Paris crash, said a statement released by the Rio de Janeiro State Judiciary.

Osmar Maduro, an Air France spokesman in Brazil, told The Associated Press that the airline would not comment on the judge’s ruling.

Air France’s insurer, AXA, said in a statement that it would appeal the ruling because it was not made by the compensation body established by Brazil’s government.

An advocacy group in France reacted Friday by announcing that it would seek equal compensation for French victims of the crash.

Air France Flight 447 crashed in the Atlantic Ocean off Brazil’s northeastern coast on June 1, 2009. All those aboard were killed.

The first two search operations after the crash turned up 50 bodies and about 1,000 pieces of wreckage — but not the black-box flight recorders that could give clues as to what made it plunge into the sea during thunderstorms at night. The boxes are believed to be somewhere on the ocean floor at extreme depths.

The third, French-led search operation — initially scheduled to begin last month — was delayed by weather conditions and trouble getting a search ship to Brazil, the French accident- investigation agency said Thursday.

The latest operation is expected to cover 770 square miles (2,000 square kilometers) of ocean in four weeks. It is the biggest, most expensive search BEA has conducted and one of the most complex undersea operations ever, BEA chief Jean-Paul Troadec told reporters last month.

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