Dutch airline excused from 'underwear bomber' suit

NEW YORK Mon Jun 3, 2013 4:55pm EDT

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is shown in this booking photograph released by the U.S. Marshals Service December 28, 2009. REUTERS/US Marshals Service/Handout

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is shown in this booking photograph released by the U.S. Marshals Service December 28, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/US Marshals Service/Handout

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - A U.S. judge on Monday dismissed claims against KLM Royal Dutch Airlines in a lawsuit holding it liable for injuries a New York man says he sustained while helping to stop the so-called "underwear bomber" from blowing up a plane in 2009.

U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon ruled that the federal court in New York lacked jurisdiction to rule on KLM, in part because the company is based in the Netherlands.

Theophilus Maranga said he suffered physical and emotional injuries, including injuries to his ribs and a fear of flying, in trying to overpower Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab on the flight, according to a lawsuit filed in November.

But under the Warsaw Convention, which regulates liability for international carriage of persons, Maranga's claims against KLM may only be asserted in the Netherlands, or Ghana, where the tickets were purchased, McMahon wrote.

The ruling does not affect the lawsuit's claims against Delta Airlines.

Abdulmutallab attempted to blow up the Detroit-bound Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam on Christmas Day with a bomb stashed in his underwear, causing a fire but no explosion.

Maranga's lawsuit accused Delta, which bought Northwest in 2008, and KLM, which had a commercial agreement with Northwest, of negligently selling tickets to the Nigerian man and allowing him to board the plane despite signals that he had a criminal motivation, according to the lawsuit.

McMahon also dismissed claims against Abdulmutallab, who was also named as a defendant in the case, because the court lacks personal jurisdiction over him.

Lawyers for Maranga, KLM and Delta, as well as representatives for KLM and Delta, did not immediately respond to requests for comment. KLM is part of Air France-KLM SA.

Abdulmutallab has said he wanted to blow up the plane, which carried 290 people, in revenge for the killing of innocent Muslims by the United States.

He was sentenced last year to life in prison after pleading guilty to all eight counts of a federal indictment, including conspiracy to commit an act of terrorism.

(Reporting by Bernard Vaughan; Editing by Chris Reese)

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