The husband of one of the seven passengers killed in a November plane crash in Akron has sued the craft’s owner in a Florida court.
Joel Castillo, who recently filed his lawsuit in Broward County, Fla., said the plane’s owner permitted its pilots to operate the craft despite faulty equipment, according to Courthouse News, a nationwide news service that focuses on civil litigation.
Castillo’s suit names Rais Group International, the Miami-based company that owned the plane, as well as ExecuFlight Inc., which leased the craft from Rais. ExecuFlight is a Fort Lauderdale aircraft-charter business.
Castillo’s wife, Diana Suriel, was among seven employees of Pebb Enterprises, a Boca Raton, Fla., real estate developer, who died in a Nov. 10 crash in the 3,000 block of Mogadore Road that happened as the plane was attempting to land at Akron Fulton International Airport. The crash also claimed the lives of the pilot and co-pilot. The plane destroyed a four-unit apartment building, though no one on the ground was injured.
A preliminary report released by the National Transportation Safety Board found that the pilot of the plane was warned visibility was low shortly before the crash. Conditions were misty and overcast.
A nearby security camera recorded the plane as it came in over the surrounding tress with its left wing down. The crash and ensuing fire consumed most of the airplane, but the airframe, engines, primary flight controls and landing gear were all accounted for at the crash site and are being analyzed as part of a more in-depth investigation of the cause of the crash.
Castillo’s lawsuit says the plane’s pilot and co-pilot, who worked for ExecuFlight, operated the plane at a dangerously low altitude that made it difficult for them to land safely. The suit says the pilots lacked the proper government licenses to operate the plane and one of them had a serious health problem that prevented him from passing a medical examination, according to the Courthouse News article.
Castillo is claiming negligence and is seeking compensatory damages.
Suriel, 32, had worked for Pebb Enterprises for about six months when the plane crash happened. She was a project manager assistant.
ExecuFlight and Rais Group didn’t return phone messages Tuesday seeking comment. Robert Distefano from Distefano & Kennedy in Fort Lauderdale, Castillo’s attorney, also couldn’t be reached.
Stephanie Warsmith can be reached at 330-996-3705 or email@example.com. Follow on Twitter: @swarsmithabj and on Facebook: www.facebook.com/swarsmith.