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Lawsuit Filed Over Fatal Plane Crash

The scene of the crash at Grand Bahama shipyard.

The scene of the crash at Grand Bahama shipyard.

By KHRISNA VIRGIL

Tribune Staff Reporter

kvirgil@tribunemedia.net

THE estate of the only American citizen on board the ill-fated Learjet 36, which crashed in bad weather on November 9 in Grand Bahama, has filed a legal suit against Diplomat Aviation.

Diego Desantiago, a Colorado resident and evangelical minister, was killed when the plane carrying Dr Myles Munroe and his wife with several other Bahamas Faith Ministries ministers, struck a crane and crashed in the Grand Bahama shipyard.

The suit points to pilot error as the basis for their claim, according to court documents filed in the District of South Carolina. Desantiago’s estate, represented by his brother Juan Desantiago, has “strong viable claims” against Diplomat Aviation.

It was revealed by this newspaper in December that lawyers representing Diplomat Aviation (Bahamas) Ltd, the company under which the Learjet was registered, were embroiled in a court battle with a US-based insurance company over the payout from a $10m liability policy.

The latest documents said: “The question of liability coverage is the sole issue presented by the declaratory judgment proceeding. The Desantiago Estate undeniably has a significant interest in this issue.

“Although the investigation into the crash of the subject aircraft is not yet complete, preliminary information points to pilot error as the likely cause. Thus, the Desantiago Estate has strong viable claims against Diplomat Aviation for Desantiago’s death.”

The final report of the incident, reported in The Tribune on Monday, blamed poor decision-making of the crew in initiating and continuing a descent below the authorised altitude.

The documents added: “The sole issue presented by the Declaratory Judgement proceeding is whether XL Insurance will be required to indemnify Diplomat Aviation for up to $10m (the amount of liability coverage) as a result of the crash of the subject aircraft.

“In the event that there is no coverage it is quite possible that the Desantiago Estate would find itself without remedy for Diego’s death. It is unknown whether Diplomat Aviation, apparently a Bahamian corporation, has available assets to satisfy any judgement entered against it.

“Accordingly, the disposition of this Declaratory Judgement proceeding would impair or impede the Desantiago Estate’s significant interest in the question of liability coverage.”

“If XL Insurance prevails in this action, Diego’s estate’s recourse for negligence of the flight crew will likely be against only Diplomat Aviation, an alleged uninsured corporation,” the documents said.

Nearly four months after the crash the final report said: “The Civil Aviation Aircraft Accident Investigation and Prevention Unit (AAIPU) has determined that the probable cause of the incident was ... the poor decision-making of the crew in initiating and continuing a descent in IMC (instrument meteorological conditions) below the authorised altitude, without visual contact with the runway environment.

“A fireball lasting approximately three seconds was observed as a result of the contact between the aircraft and the crane. The right outboard wing, right landing gear and right wing fuel tank separated from the aircraft on impact.”

“This resulted in the aircraft travelling out of control, some 1,578 feet, before crashing inverted into a pile of garbage and other debris in the City Services Garbage and Metal Recycling Plant adjacent to the Grand Bahama Shipyard.”

The jet was “some 3.2 nautical miles from the runway threshold” when it struck the crane, the report says.

Comments

Publius 6 years, 11 months ago

Lawsuits are of course expected in aviation accidents and in many cases are warranted. Let's wait to see the fools who will try to claim that suing Diplomat Aviation is the equivalent of suing God...

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DEDDIE 6 years, 11 months ago

In business it is always prudent to separate your assets from the operational aspect of your business.What you will find in most cases when trying to sue an entity is that they have no assets for you to go after.

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