Airplane Accidents - Articles

Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed by Santa Monica Plane Crash Victim's Family

September 29, 2014

The parents of a woman who was killed in a Santa Monica Airport plane crash filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the heirs of the pilot of the aircraft, the aircraft's manufacturer and three government entities.

The parents of Lauren Winkler, Gary and Carole Winkler, filed the lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court against the estate of Mark Benjamin, the cities of Santa Monica and Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, and maker of the crashed 525A Citation, Cessna Aircraft Co.

Others who died in the crash on Sept. 29, 2013 at about 6:20 p.m. were Benjamin, 63; his son Lucas, 28, who was Winkler's boyfriend; and Kyla Dupont, 53.

The lawsuit accuses Benjamin of negligently landing the aircraft in a “dangerous, unsafe and reckless manner” that caused it to veer from the runway and hit a hangar. According to the suit, Benjamin was “physically, mentally, and emotionally unfit to operate” the plane.

According to the suit, the cities and county were all responsible for the dangerous condition of the runway, which had rocks and other materials present on the pavement. The suit also says that Benjamin had insufficient space for steering until regaining his control over the aircraft.

The suit also alleges that the hangar the plane ran into was built too close to the runway to be at a safe distance.

The National Transportation Safety Board released a report last year that claimed the tires were properly inflated and no debris was present on the runway when the plane ran into the hangar and burst into flames.


Ukraine Faces Lawsuit from Families of German MH17 Victims

September 21, 2014

The families of the German victims of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 intend to sue the country and its president for manslaughter by negligence, according to the lawyer representing them.

Elmar Giemulla, the lawyer who represents three families of German victims, said that Ukraine should have closed its airspace if it could not guarantee that the flights would be safe.

“Each state is responsible for the security of its airspace,” Giemulla said. “If it is not able to do so temporarily, it must close its airspace. As that did not happen, Ukraine is liable for the damage.”

According to Giemulla, Ukraine had committed a human rights violation by choosing not to close its airspace, stating this meant that the country accepted the deaths of hundreds of innocent people.

298 people were killed when the jetliner crashed in the pro-Russian rebel-held territory of Ukraine.

Russia has rejected the claims made by Ukraine and Western countries that they supplied the Russian rebels with SA-11 Buk anti-aircraft missile systems to shoot down the plane.

The case accused Ukraine and its president Petro Poroshenko of manslaughter by negligence in 298 cases. Giemulla intended on giving the case to the European Court of Human Rights in two weeks, pushing for compensation of one million euros ($1.3 million) per victim.


United Airlines Sued by Mechanic Blamed for 2000 Concorde Crash

December 03, 2013

A mechanic who was erroneously blamed for the 2000 crash of a Concorde jet in France has filed a lawsuit against United Airlines, according to court documents.

The suit was filed by John Taylor, a former mechanic for United Airlines, against the airline, United Continental Holdings and Air France-KLM, alleging that United Airlines failed to provide him with a competent defense and essentially made him a scapegoat for the crash.

A supervisor of Taylor's told the French police that he was responsible for performing faulty repairs, which caused an essential metal component to fall from another plane onto the runway resulting in the Concorde's crash during takeoff.

The accident, which killed 113 people, marked the only crash of a Concorde jet in 27 years.

A French court convicted Taylor and sentenced him to 15 months in prison. He was exonerated in 2012, however, when his conviction was overturned on appeal.


Asiana Airlines Offers Crash Survivors $10,000 Each

August 13, 2013

Asiana Airlines offered $10,000 to each survivor of a plane crash in San Francisco last month, but denies responsibility for the crash.

A spokesperson for the South Korean airline said the $10,000 payout isn't intended to deter any future claims against Asiana. Rather, it is an advance payment of the full insurance claims, which will take months or more to pay out.

The airline said it decided to award advance compensation based on standard global practice, although offering advance payments is not typical in South Korea.

Asiana Flight 214 crashed during landing at the San Francisco international airport on July 6.


Crash Victim Sues Asiana Airlines in U.S. Court

August 02, 2013

A Chinese national who was injured in the crash of Asiana Flight 214 in San Francisco last month has filed a lawsuit against the airline in U.S. court.

The lawsuit was filed by Zhengheng Xie, who is a professor at Shanghai University. Xie was en route to visit his son, who had purchased a ticket on the Asiana Airlines Boeing 777 for his father.

The plane crashed while landing at the San Francisco airport on July 6, causing Xie to suffer a broken spine and be confined in a body cast. Three passengers were killed in the crash.

Xie and his wife, Wei Song, are suing the South Korean airline for $5 million in damages, according to court documents.

Under international treaty rules, most other non-U.S. passengers on the flight will be forced to file a lawsuit in their home country, where damage awards for injuries are rare.

Xie is able to sue in U.S. court because his ticket was purchased in the U.S.


Woman Sues Continental Airlines Over Spilled Coffee

May 30, 2013

A woman in Texas has filed a lawsuit against the former Continental Airlines over a 2011 incident in which a flight attendant spilled a cup of coffee on her lap.

The suit was filed by Lourdes Cervantes against United Continental Holdings Inc. of Chicago, the company that purchased Continental Airlines, alleging that a flight attendant spilled hot coffee on her during a Continental flight from Madrid, Spain, to Newark, New Jersey in August 2011.

Cervantes alleges that the cup of coffee slid off the tray table and spilled onto her lap when the person in the seat in front of her reclined the seat as the flight attendant was serving the hot beverage.

According to court documents, Cervantes sustained second-degree burns requiring medical treatment and has permanent scarring on the affected areas of her body.

The suit is seeking $170,550, the maximum compensation that can be sought under the 1999 Montreal Convention, which allows for compensation to victims of injuries sustained on international flights.


$28M Punitive Damage Award in Plane Crash Suit Reinstated

May 08, 2013

An appeals court in Missouri has reinstated a $28 million punitive damage award in a lawsuit involving a plane crash that killed six people.

The lawsuit was filed by the families of a pilot and four skydivers who were killed in a 2006 crash caused by a defective component part of the plane's engine.

The trial judge struck down the $28 million punitive damage award from a jury verdict of $48 million because no evidence was presented at trial that Doncasters Inc., a manufacturer of airplane parts, had knowledge that the engine part responsible for the crash was defective.

A three-member panel of the appeals court affirmed the trial judge's ruling in early 2013.

The full court of appeals reinstated the award of punitive damages in a 9-3 vote on Tuesday and denied Doncasters' motion for a new trial.

The family of a fifth skydiver killed in the crash did not join in the lawsuit.


Memo: Air Traffic Controllers Violated FAA Regulations

June 15, 2012

According to FAA documents, air traffic controllers across the country have violated new regulations intended to prevent sleeping on the job almost 4,000 times since they were instated.

Instances of sleeping on the job and other violations were reported from January through May at over 50 percent of airport control towers throughout the U.S., according to an internal FAA memo issued June 4.

The new rules were enacted after an air traffic controller was napping while working the midnight shift alone at the Reagan National Airport tower near Washington last year. Pilots of two separate flights were forced to land on their own when they received no reply from the napping controller supervisor.

The regulations disallow solo midnight shifts for controllers and require nine hours of rest between shifts. These and other rules were violated when instances of shift trading and scheduling snafus allowed several controllers to work 40 hours in just four days.


JetBlue Sued Over Pilot's Bomb Threat

June 13, 2012

A lawsuit was filed against JetBlue on Tuesday by ten passengers who were aboard a flight from New York to Las Vegas when the pilot began yelling about terrorist threats, according to court documents.

The suit, filed in New York, alleges that JetBlue acted negligently when it permitted Capt. Clayton Osbon to pilot the plane in March.

During the flight, Osbon began running through the cabin, screaming about the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. In the lawsuit, Osbon is quoted as yelling, "Say your prayers ... We're going down ...There's a bomb on board .. .The plane will never make it to Vegas."

Members of the flight crew and several passengers had to subdue the pilot while the flight was diverted to Amarillo, Texas. Osbon faces federal charges for interfering with a flight crew and attempting to use an aircraft as a weapon.

The defendants allege that JetBlue knew or should have known that Osbon was unfit to fly the plane.


Woman Maimed by Propeller Refuses Settlement Offer

March 27, 2012

A Texas woman who was hit by a rotating airplane propeller while on the runway of a Dallas airport refused an insurance company's settlement offer this week, instead choosing to filing suit against the insurer.

Professional model Lauren Scruggs, 23, lost a hand and an eye in the accident. She filed a lawsuit in Dallas County Court against Aggressive Insurance Services, the insurer of pilot Curt Richmond.

Scruggs was on the airport's tarmac when she was struck by the spinning propellers of Richmond's plane, which was returning from a tour of Christmas light displays in the Dallas area.

Richmond's insurer had offered Scruggs a $200,000 settlement, which she rejected.


$117M Helicopter Crash Case Goes to Jury

March 16, 2012

A $117 million lawsuit that involves a California helicopter crash that caused the death of nine firefighters in 2008 was turned over to a jury for deliberation on Thursday, according to court officials.

The case was filed against General Electric by the estate of one of the victims and the surviving pilot of the Sikorsky S-61N helicopter, which crashed and burst into flames just after takeoff, killing nine firefighters and injuring four others.

GE, the company that built the aircraft's engine, was accused of having known for six years of fuel control valve issues in the engines built for the S-61N model helicopters. The deadly 2008 crash was determined to be caused by a fuel control valve failure.

GE's attorney argued that the helicopter was 1,400 pounds overweight when it took off.


Four Hospitalized After Jet Fuel Spill

January 26, 2012

Four people who were exposed to thousands of gallons of spilled jet fuel at a commercial hangar at Miami International Airport had to be hospitalized on Wednesday, rescuers said.

According to rescue workers, nearly 2,200 gallons of jet fuel spilled from a plane at the hangar due to an undisclosed mechanical problem.

All four of the injured were airport employees.

It took crews over three hours to clean up the spill.


Six Injured by Turbulence on International Flight

January 23, 2012

Six members of a flight crew suffered injuries on Sunday when an American Airlines flight en route to Miami from Brazil hit extreme turbulence, an airline official said.

The incident occurred on Flight 980, when the plane was suddenly hit with rough turbulence that injured six crew members - sending five of them to the hospital.

An emergency room doctor who was on board the plane helped treat the injured before the plane landed in Miami.


Investigation Blames Air Traffic Controller for Near-Collision

January 19, 2012

An investigation into a near mid-air collision at a Mississippi airport in 2010 blames the incident on an error by a tower air traffic controller, according to a National Transportation Safety Board report released this week.

The near-collision occurred on June 19, when an air traffic controller at the Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport cleared two planes for takeoff at the same time from different runways with intersecting flight paths.

When the planes - a small private plane and a commercial jet - ascended to about 300 feet, they nearly collided, getting as close as 0 feet vertically and 300 feet laterally.

The private plane was a Cessna 172 carrying two passengers. The jetliner was an Embraer 145 carrying 50 passengers and 3 crew members bound for Houston Bush Intercontinental Airport. No one was injured in the incident.

The air traffic controller, Robert Beck, was "not paying attention" when the incident occurred, according to the report.

Beck was acting as an on-the-job training instructor for several other controllers before the near-collision, but was suspended and decertified after the incident.


Marine Jet Crash Victims Seek $56 Million

December 15, 2011

The family of four California residents who were killed when a Marine fighter jet crashed into their home in 2008 is seeking $56 million in compensation, the family's lawyers said on Wednesday.

The family's attorneys said at the end of a three-day trial that the government should pay $56 million, which includes $2.5 million for lost wages and economic losses.

Don Yoon testified that the deaths of his wife Youngmi, his mother-in-law Seokim Lee, and his 15-month-old and 7-week-old daughters, Grace and Rachel, devastated his life.

Yoon, along with Seokim's husband and children, filed the wrongful death lawsuit, which wrapped up on Wednesday.


Four Passengers, Pilot Dead in Tour Helicopter Crash

December 08, 2011

The pilot and four passengers on a helicopter tour of the Hoover Dam and Lake Mead were killed in a crash on Wednesday in Nevada, a spokesman for the National Park Service said.

A National Park Service search team, which found the crash site by helicopter Wednesday night, said there were no survivors. The team could not remove the bodies until daybreak on Thursday, however.

The air tour, operated by Sundance Tours, originated from Las Vegas just before 5 p.m. and crashed somewhere in the River Mountains shortly after takeoff.

The Federal Aviation Administration is conducting an investigation into the cause of the crash.


85-Year-Old Woman Threatens Lawsuit Over TSA Search

December 05, 2011

An 85-year-old woman is threatening a lawsuit against the Transportation Security Agency, after being strip-searched at John F. Kennedy airport in New York last week.

Lenore Zimmerman claims she requested a pat-down search at the JetBlue airlines terminal on Tuesday because her defibrillator prevents her from going through the security screening device.

She says TSA agents took her to a private room and conducted a strip search, causing Zimmerman to miss her flight and wait nearly 2-1/2 hours for the next available one.

In a statement released last week, TSA denied the allegations, saying "TSA contacted the passenger to apologize that she feels she had an unpleasant screening experience; however, TSA does not include strip-searches in its protocols and a strip-search did not occur in this case."


Turbulence Injured Southwest Flight Attendants

December 02, 2011

Turbulence on a flight from Albuquerque, New Mexico, to Oakland, California, injured three Southwest Airlines flight attendants, sending two of them to an Oakland-area hospital, the airline said.

A third flight attendant sustained minor injuries that did not require hospitalization.

The severe turbulence lasted for only 10 seconds during Southwest Flight 1489, which landed in Oakland at about 8:35 p.m. Thursday evening.

None of the plane's 95 passengers were injured in the incident.


Airport Body Scanners Linked to Cancer

November 30, 2011

A Florida commuter group recommended this week that commuters who fly several times a week should avoid airport body scanners, which were linked to cancer in a recent report.

Body scanning machines were banned in all European airports earlier this month in the wake of studies which linked airport body scanners to several cases of cancer.

The body scanners, now in widespread use in the U.S., emit low levels of radiation in order to detect any dangerous items passengers may be trying to conceal.

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration has refused to comment on the European ban of the scanners.

The European Commission announced the ban on November 14, after the airing of PBS Newshour report which revealed that between six and 100 airline passengers get cancer each year in the U.S. as a result of the body scanners.


Southwest Airlines Sued Over Free Drink Vouchers

November 17, 2011

An Illinois man is suing Southwest Airlines over the carrier's August 2010 decision to stop honoring vouchers for free alcoholic beverages that were given to "Business Select" travelers, according to court documents.

The suit was filed by Adam Levitt against the discount airline, which had for years given fliers who purchased premium Business Select seats coupons for alcoholic drinks, which normally cost $5 each.

Previously, the drink coupons had no expiration date. Southwest's new policy, however, allows Business Select passengers to use their vouchers only on the day of travel.

The lawsuit, which is seeking class-action status, claims that the policy change is tantamount to a breach of contract.


Woman Kicked Off Flight Sues Airline

October 07, 2011

A woman who was kicked off a Southwest Airlines flight in San Diego in March filed a discrimination suit against the airline on Thursday, court records show.

The lawsuit was filed by Irum Abbasi, a Muslim woman wearing a hijab on a Southwest flight to the Bay Area, who was removed from the plane because a flight attendant thought she overheard Abbasi saying "it's a go" on her cell phone.

Abbasi claims she told a Verizon representative, "I've got to go."

The airline quickly determined that Abbasi was not a security threat, but the pilot would not allow her to re-board the original flight.

Abbasi was offered a seat on a later flight, as well as a travel voucher, but the delay prevented the graduate student from conducting a scheduled experiment at San Jose State University.


Settlement Reached in Final 9/11 Wrongful Death Lawsuit

September 20, 2011

A settlement has been reached in the final remaining wrongful death lawsuit arising from the September 11, 2001, terror attacks, according to court documents.

The lawsuit was brought by the family of 31-year-old Mark Bavis, who was a passenger on United Airlines Flight 175, the second plane that flew into the World Trade Center.

The family had previously refused to settle the lawsuit, believing only a trial would hold the airline publicly accountable for gross negligence in permitting five terrorists to board the flight at Logan International Airport in Boston.

The settlement will require the airline to file a detailed report of the evidence in the case, including 127 exhibits that had not previously been made public.

The family's attorney said the report will achieve the public accountability the family was seeking.

The amount of damages will remain confidential.


Air Traffic Control Errors on the Rise

September 06, 2011

A report released by the Federal Aviation Administration this week reveals an 81 percent increase in air traffic controller errors between 2007 and 2010.

The data, released on Monday, involved errors that caused planes to fly too close to each other.

The FAA attributes the increase to changes in the way errors are reported and categorized, but some critics blame other problems, such as inexperienced staff and inadequate training.

Nearly half of all air traffic controllers in the U.S. have been hired in the past five years because a large number of air traffic controllers have recently retired.

Congress has requested a Department of Transportation report into the increase in errors, which is expected to be released in the spring of 2012.

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