A Los Angeles Superior Court judge has awarded $70 million to the families of four people who were part of the late Latin music superstar Jenni Rivera’s entourage when they were all killed in a private plane crash in Mexico in 2012. According to a news report in the Los Angeles Times, the judge entered the default judgment against Starwood Management, Inc. the owner of the Learjet carrying Rivera and her staffers when it smashed into the side of a mountain. Starwood abandoned its defense of the wrongful death lawsuit and stopped representing itself in court proceedings. Rivera’s family was not involved in the lawsuit.
Allegations of Negligence and Fraud
The plaintiffs in the wrongful death lawsuit were family members of Rivera’s publicist Arturo Rivera, makeup artist Jacob Yebale, stylist Jorge Sanchez and lawyer Mario Macias. An attorney representing the families said the judgment provides a sense of closure the families that they have been able to hold Starwood accountable for this tragedy. Now, the next step would be to recover the substantial damages. Rivera, who was from Long Beach, and six others, including two pilots, died December 9, 2012 when the private jet dropped about 28,000 feet in 30 seconds and crashed into the rugged terrain.
The plaintiff’s families claimed in their lawsuit that the plane’s owner had failed to properly maintain the aircraft and train the crew. The pilot, according to the complaint, was not licensed for the passenger load he was carrying. Further the aircraft carrying the singer and her team had suffered substantial damage in 2005 when a fuel imbalance caused one wingtip to weigh 300 pounds more than the other. However, no one was injured that time when the pilot struck a runway distance marker while landing in Texas. The lawsuit also alleged that Starwood executives falsified records relating to the history of airplanes they bought and sold. Rivera’s husband has also filed a wrongful death suit against the plane’s owners.
Damages in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
A wrongful death lawsuit is usually filed in civil court by survivors of a person who died as a result of someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing. A spouse, child, parent, or anyone who was financially dependent on the decedent could file such as lawsuit. Damages that are commonly sought in wrongful death lawsuits include medical expenses, funeral and burial costs, lost future income, pain and suffering and loss of love and companionship. Families of deceased victims in such cases would be well advised to contact an experienced California wrongful death lawyer who will fight for their rights and hold the wrongdoers accountable.