AP (NEW)

Lawsuit over deadly seaplane crash in Washington state targets aircraft operator and manufacturer

Aug 24, 2023, 7:54 PM

whidbey island plane lawsuit...

FILE - A U.S. Coast Guard boat and Kitsap, Wash., County Sheriff's Office boat search the area near Freeland, Wash., on Whidbey Island north of Seattle, Monday, Sept. 5, 2022. Representatives for all but one of the nine passengers killed in a seaplane crash near Washington state's Whidbey Island are suing the flight’s charter operator and aircraft manufacturer, saying the companies are responsible for the victims’ deaths. The three lawsuits, filed Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2023 in King County Superior Court, say the companies are responsible for the victims’ deaths, The Seattle Times reported. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear, File)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(AP Photo/Stephen Brashear, File)

SEATTLE (AP) — Representatives for all but one of the nine passengers killed in a seaplane crash near Washington state’s Whidbey Island are suing the aircraft’s charter operator and its manufacturer.

The three lawsuits, filed Tuesday in King County Superior Court, say the companies are responsible for the victims’ deaths, The Seattle Times reported.

The lawsuits name Northwest Seaplanes and De Havilland Aircraft of Canada, along with other aviation entities, as defendants. The single-engine De Havilland Canada DHC-3 Turbine Otter that crashed was owned by Northwest Seaplanes.

The pilot and nine passengers died Sept. 4, 2022, when the plane, traveling to the Seattle suburb of Renton from Friday Harbor in the San Juan Islands, crashed into Mutiny Bay near Whidbey Island.

The crash was “entirely preventable” and the aviation companies are liable for damages, one complaint alleges. All the lawsuits are similar in their allegations and in the descriptions of the pain and suffering they say the victims faced just before their deaths.

Representatives for the estates of Lauren Hilty, 39, who was 8 months pregnant at the time; Joanne Mera, 60; Gabrielle Hanna, 29; and Sandra Williams, 60, filed one wrongful death lawsuit. Mera was a business owner from San Diego. Hanna was a Seattle lawyer on her way home from a friend’s wedding. Williams was a civil rights activist who founded a community center and Black newspaper in Spokane.

Representatives for Hilty’s husband, Ross Mickel, 47, and Remy Mickel, their 22-month-old son, filed the second lawsuit. Hilty, Mickel and Remy were returning to their home in Medina, Washington, from a Labor Day weekend trip.

Representatives for Rebecca and Luke Ludwig, a Minnesota couple who had two children, filed the third lawsuit.

Longtime commercial pilot Jason Winters and passenger Patricia Hicks, a retired teacher and Williams’ partner, also died in the crash.

A preliminary investigation from the National Transportation Safety Board found a component that moved the plane’s horizontal tail stabilizer had come apart. This left the pilot without the ability to control the aircraft’s pitch, causing it to plummet in a near-vertical descent into the water.

Nate Bingham, an attorney representing the Ludwigs’ families, said Thursday the plane crashed because of “an antiquated design with a single point of failure.”

The lawsuits allege the defendants and their subsidiaries should have maintained and inspected the aircraft and had a duty to ensure a safe flight.

Northwest Seaplanes and De Havilland Aircraft of Canada did not respond Thursday to requests by the newspaper for comment, and attempts to reach the companies by The Associated Press were not immediately successful.

Northwest Seaplanes said last year it was “heartbroken” over the incident and was working with the FAA, NTSB and Coast Guard.

AP (New)

Associated Press

Judge rejects effort by Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson to get records from Catholic church

SEATTLE (AP) — A Washington state judge said Friday that Attorney General Bob Ferguson is not entitled to enforce a subpoena seeking decades of records from the Seattle Archdiocese, despite his assertion that the records are needed to learn whether the Catholic church used charitable trust funds to cover up sexual abuse by priests. Judge […]

17 hours ago

Pelicans fly near the shore as waves from the Pacific Ocean roll in Tuesday, May 14, 2024, on the Q...

Associated Press

For at least a decade Quinault Nation has tried to escape the rising Pacific. Time is running out

TAHOLAH, Wash. (AP) — Standing water lies beneath the home Sonny Curley shares with his parents and three children on the Quinault reservation a few steps from the Pacific Ocean in Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. The back deck is rotting, and black mold speckles the walls inside, leaving the 46-year-old fisherman feeling drained if he spends […]

1 day ago

FILE - Water spills over the Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River, which runs along the Washington ...

Associated Press

US would keep more hydropower under agreement with Canada on treaty governing Columbia River

SEATTLE (AP) — The U.S. and Canada said Thursday they have agreed to update a six-decade-old treaty that governs the use of one of North America’s largest rivers, the Columbia, with provisions that officials said would provide for effective flood control, irrigation, and hydropower generation and sharing between the countries. The “agreement in principle,” reached […]

2 days ago

Associated Press

Jury awards more than $13 million to ultramarathon athlete injured in fall on a Seattle sidewalk

SEATTLE (AP) — A jury awarded $13.1 million to an ultramarathon athlete who was severely injured when she fell on a Seattle sidewalk in 2021. The award by a King County jury found that the city of Seattle and the owners of an apartment building are responsible for the amount, the Seattle Times reported. Lesley […]

21 days ago

Associated Press

Parts of Washington state parental rights law criticized as a ‘forced outing’ placed on hold

SEATTLE (AP) — A judge has paused parts of a new Washington state parental rights law derided by critics as a “forced outing” measure. King County Superior Court Judge Michael Scott on Friday paused portions of the law while a lawsuit brought by civil liberties groups and others is pending, The Seattle Times reported. The […]

22 days ago

Associated Press

Seattle police officer fired for off-duty racist comments

SEATTLE (AP) — A Seattle police officer was fired for calling his Chinese American neighbor racist and sexist slurs while off duty in 2022, according to a news report. Officer Burton Hill was fired in May, The Seattle Times reported. The termination stemmed from an altercation with his neighbor, Zhen Jin, over the disposal of […]

23 days ago

Lawsuit over deadly seaplane crash in Washington state targets aircraft operator and manufacturer