NEW YORK -- A federal appeals court has cleared the way for families of those killed on TWA Flight 800 to seek millions of dollars in damages for pain and suffering because the crash was not in international waters.
In a 2-1 decision, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that the 1996 crash eight miles off the coast of Long Island was not governed by the Death on the High Seas Act, which limits lawsuit damages.
The appeals court noted that President Reagan in 1988 extended the territorial sea of the United States from three miles to 12 miles offshore. The appeals court's ruling affirmed a 1998 decision.
The Boeing 747 exploded minutes into a flight from New York to Paris, falling in pieces to the Atlantic Ocean. All 230 people aboard were killed. The exact cause of the crash remains a mystery.
Families of the victims have sought millions from Boeing, TWA and Hydro-Aire Inc., which made the plane's fuel pumps. The plaintiffs claim the companies were negligent in the construction and operation of the plane. A trial in the case is set to begin next Feb. 1.
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