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Swissair lawsuits are being settled


LONDON -- Some of the large liability claims brought on behalf of victims of the September 1998 crash of Swissair flight 111 have been settled, and more are likely to be agreed to out of court.

Lee Kreindler, senior partner and aviation liability lawyer in the New York law firm of Kreindler & Kreindler, said that 15 to 20 cases have been settled so far. Mr. Kreindler, who is the chairman of the plaintiffs' committee for the Swissair claimants, said he is still attempting to resolve claims. He said that he "would expect most of the cases to be settled, if handled properly."

Litigation of eight cases has begun in federal court in Philadelphia. Mr. Kreindler represents plaintiffs in 82 of the approximately 150 cases pending in U.S. courts as a result of the crash off the Canadian coast; all 229 passengers and crew members on board the Swissair flight were killed.

Graham Nichols, chief executive officer of London-based Westminster Aviation Insurance Group Ltd., has also said he is aware that "a couple" of higher-value Swissair claims have been settled.

Mr. Nichols said that he believe that more claims will be settled out of court, because, with the passage of time, it grows less likely that investigators will determine the cause of the fire that brought down the plane. Claim-ants have little likelihood of gaining new supportive evidence by postponing their settlements, he said.