Widow, Homeowners Sue Over 2014 Plane Crash

     (CN) — A 2014 plane crash that killed six people and hit several homes in Maryland sparked two lawsuits in Florida, one from a widow and one from a family whose home was damaged.
     The crash happened on Dec. 8, 2014, when pilot Michael Rosenberg, a doctor and business owner, lost control of a twin engine jet, which stalled out due to icing conditions and crashed into several houses in Gaithersburg, Md., 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 won’t be enough to pay out all the claims resulting from the crash, said attorney Jim Brauchle.
     Brauchle represents Amaranna Ogbuka, the widow of a passenger killed in the crash, 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. She sued on May 5 in Broward County, Fla.
     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 Embraer EMB-500/Phenom 100 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.
     Rosenburg and his passengers were flying that day as part of 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.
     Ogbuka, 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,” Ogbuka’s widow’s lawsuit states.
     The complaint lists a dozen reasons that Rosenberg’s estate 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 as defendants Embraer S.A., a Brazilian conglomerate that builds aircrafts and offers aeronautical services corporations, and related companies for their role in the aircraft’s creation and maintenance. Ultimately, the plane was “defective and unreasonably dangerous,” the complaint states.
     Ogbuka claims 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 lawsuit states.
     The widow is suing for five counts of negligence, product liability and fraudulent transfer, and is represented by Brauchle and Mary Schiavo of Motley Rice LLC in Mount Pleasant, S.C.
     In another lawsuit filed May 6, plaintiffs Usha Creamer, Douglas Creamer and Christen Hunt say they were at work while aircraft parts and toxic chemicals from the crash rained down on their homes, causing smoke and a fire.
     But Douglas Creamer was home, and so were Marie Gemmell and her sons, Cole and Devin, according to the complaint. The Gemmells were trapped in their home and died, according to local news reports. Neighbors raised more than $400,000 in a fundraiser to help the surviving members of the Gemmell family.
     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 home.
     They are suing Rosenberg, Paladin, Sage Aviation and a handful of Embraer corporations on five counts of negligence, breach of warranty and product liability. The Creamers and Hunt are represented by Joseph Rich of Cozen O’Connor P.C. in Miami Florida.
     Embraer spokesman Daniel Bachmann said the company declined to comment. Paladin could not be reached for comment.

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