Courts will treat Asiana passengers differently

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By PAUL ELIAS, Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — When the crash of Asiana Airlines Flight 214 goes to court, the potential payouts will probably be vastly different for Americans and passengers from other countries, even if they were seated side by side as the jetliner crash-landed.

An international treaty governs compensation to passengers harmed by international air travel — from damaged luggage to crippling injuries and death. The pact is likely to close U.S. courts to many foreigners, forcing them to pursue claims in Asia and elsewhere, where lawsuits are rarer, harder to win and offer smaller payouts.

Northern California attorney Frank Pitre represents two Americans who were aboard the plane. He says U.S. citizens will have no problem getting into U.S. courts. Other people, he says, will have a fight on their hands.

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