Almost seven months after a fiery plane crash at the Thomson-McDuffie Regional Airport killed five members of The Vein Guys staff, families of the deceased have filed civil suits over the accident.
Among the defendants named in the suit are the airport’s operators, the city of Thomson and McDuffie County and the estate of Vein Guys co-owner Dr. Steven Roth, who died in the crash.
According to the Daily Report, which covers Georgia legal news, lawsuits were filed for four of the five passengers on Sept. 9 with Fulton County Superior Court against as many as a dozen defendants claiming their negligence led to the Feb. 20 accident. The crash also injured pilots of the Beechcraft 390 Premier 1 owned by Roth’s Pavilion Group LLC.
The crash, still under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board, occurred at about 8 p.m. when the plane aborted a landing, went airborne at the end of the runway, and then hit the top of a 60-foot-tall concrete utility pole. The plane’s left wing was sheared off causing a fuel leak, leading to the aircraft catching fire and crashing in a wooded area, the NTSB has said.
In addition to Roth, employees Kim Davidson, Heidi McCorkle, Tiffany Porter and Lisa Volpitto were killed, and pilots Richard Trammell and Jeremy Hayden were injured. The crew was returning to Thomson from a vascular surgery practice in Nashville, Tenn.
The Daily Report stated that survivors of Volpitto, McCorkle, Porter and Davidson are suing Georgia Power and parent company, Southern Company Services; the city of Thomson and McDuffie County, which jointly owned and operated the airport; Milliken & Co., owner of the Kingsley Plant at the end of the runway that had granted easement for the power pole; Spirit Aviation, the airport’s operator; and The Sky’s The Limit doing business as Executive Shuttle, which was owned by Trammell and employed both pilots. Three suits also named as defendants the Pavilion Group and the executor of Roth’s estate, Mary Anne Roth, his widow.
A lawsuit filed on behalf of McCorkle, obtained by The Augusta Chronicle, alleges that the utility pole the plane hit was too tall and inappropriately lit and the transmission lines were too high. The document states that allowing trees to be planted in the airport’s “safe zone” was negligent.
The suit also finds fault in the proper maintenance and service of the privately-owned plane.
Defendants including the Pavilion Group, Roth and the two pilots also are alleged to have enabled “impaired,” “unqualified,” or “inadequately trained pilots” to operate the plane.
Attorneys Nicholas Moraitakis, of Atlanta, and David Bell, of Augusta, were listed as representing McCorkle’s estate. McCorkle was an ultrasound technician at The Vein Guys, a regional company that provided minimally invasive vein procedures.
According to the Daily Report, Augusta lawyer William Fletcher is representing Roth’s estate.
Copies of a notice sent by McCorkle’s lawyers to the city of Thomson and McDuffie County show they are seeking a $7 million wrongful death claim and a $3 million estate claim.