Damages Sought After|Fatal 2014 Plane Crash

     (CN) — A 2014 plane crash that killed six people and took out three homes in Gaithersburg, Maryland, is the impetus behind two lawsuits, both filed in Broward County, Florida.
     The crash occurred on Dec. 8, 2014, when pilot Michael Rosenberg, a doctor and business owner, lost control of a twin engine jet, which stalled due to icing conditions and crashed into several houses, according to a report by The National Transportation Safety Board.
     Rosenberg and two passengers were killed, as were a mother and two children on the ground, inside one of the homes.
     One of Rosenberg’s companies, Sage Aviation LLC, owned the plane and had liability insurance coverage for it. But that will be insufficient to pay out all the claims resulting from the crash, said attorney Jim Brauchle.
     Brauchle represents Amaranna Ogbuka, the widow of a fatally injured passenger, who is seeking damages from the pilot’s estate, Sage Aviation LLC and a slew of companies involved in the manufacturing and maintenance of the aircraft. In a second lawsuit, the owners of two homes that were damaged in the crash aim to recoup losses they incurred when smoke, fire and parts of the EMB-500 Phenom wrecked their homes.
     So far, Brauchle said, none of the victims have received compensation. When the time comes, it will be up to the court system to distribute available funds, “but I don’t think any of the victims will be made whole,” he said.
     The Chijioke Claim
     The men were flying that day on a business trip for the Durham-based company Health Decisions, for which Rosenberg was the founder and CEO. Passenger Chijioke Ogbuka worked as a project manager for Health Decisions, and the third passenger, David Hartman, was a vice president of a drug company in Durham.
     Chijioke, who was 31 years old, left behind a wife and young son.
     “The surviving wife and child … are entitled to recover compensatory damages, including but not limited to loss of support, services, nurture care, guidance, assistance, affection, society, solace, protection, companionship, moral support, guidance, counsel, inheritance, net accumulations, mental anguish, funeral expenses, and all other damages,” Amaranna Ogbuka’s complaint states.
     The complaint lists a dozen reasons that Rosenberg should be held responsible for the crash, namely, for failing to operate the aircraft in a “safe and competent manner.”
     Ogbuka’s complaint also names Embraer S.A., a Brazilian conglomerate that builds aircrafts and offers aeronautical services corporations, and many related companies for their role in aspects of the aircraft’s creation and maintenance. Ultimately, the plane was “defective and unreasonably dangerous,” the complaint states.
     Lastly, Ogbuka’s complaint alleges that $3 million that should have been used to pay her claim was improperly transferred into a trust by Alicia Paladin, the pilot’s widow. “The transfer of assets by Paladin from Sage Aviation LLC to a trust after the fatal accident rendered Sage Aviation insolvent, as the only available liability insurance was inadequate to satisfy all the existing claims,” the complaint states.
     Ogbuka is suing on five counts of negligence, strict liability and fraudulent transfer, and is represented by Jim Brauchle and Mary Schiavo of Motley Rice LLC in Mount
     The Homeowners’ Claims
     While aircraft parts and chemicals from the crash rained down on their homes, causing smoke and a fire, plaintiffs Usha Creamer and Christen Hunt were at work, the couple’s complaint says.
     Douglas Creamer was home, though, and so were Marie Gemmels and her sons, Cole and Devin. The Gemmells were trapped in their home and did not survive.
     Neighbors raised $500,000 in a fundraiser to help the surviving members of the Gemmell family. The Creamers and Christen Hunt are seeking more than $15,000 in damages to cover their losses.
     The crash caused “significant structural damage to the home and property, extensive fire and a thick smoke and spray of chemical and toxic compounds,” the complaint states, “which caused immediate and extensive damages to both the exterior and interior” of the Creamer and the Hunt homes.
     The Creamers and Christen Hunt are suing Michael Rosenberg, Alicia Paladin, Sage Aviation LLC and a handful of Embraer corporations on five counts of negligence, breach of warranty and strict products liability.
     The plaintiffs are represented by Joseph Rich of Cozen O’Connor P.C. in Miami Florida.
     Representatives of the defendants could not be reached for comment.

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