Multiple suits filed in Thomson plane crash, based on reports

Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013 10:40 PM
Last updated Friday, Sept. 20, 2013 11:53 AM
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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.

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Ambulances gather at the old Georgia State Patrol post in Thomson near the scene of a plane crash near the Thomson-McDuffie County Airport.  TODD BENNETT/STAFF
TODD BENNETT/STAFF
Ambulances gather at the old Georgia State Patrol post in Thomson near the scene of a plane crash near the Thomson-McDuffie County Airport.

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.

THE BACK STORY

THOMSON PLANE CRASH

BACKGROUND: Kim Davidson, Heidi McCorkle, Tiffany Porter, Steven Roth and Lisa Volpitto, who worked with The Vein Guys, died in a Feb. 20 plane crash at Thomson-McDuffie Regional Airport. Two pilots were injured.

DEVELOPMENTS: Lawsuits were filed earlier this month by survivors of four of the five passengers. Defendants include Roth’s estate.

THE INVESTIGATION: The National Transportation Safety Board recovered two recording devices in April and is investigating the crash.

Comments (43) Add comment
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mosovich
858
Points
mosovich 09/19/13 - 09:58 pm
13
5
Really..

I don't think they missed anyone in the suit except maybe the cars that were on the highway at the time.. I'm sorry for their loss, but suing everyone isn't going to bring their loved ones back and isn't going to solve anything, just make things worse..

I mean is there anything these days that a person won't sue over? It was a tragic ACCIDENT.. No one set out to cause the crash..

So, the street light shines in my bedroom at night keeping me up, can I sue the city, South Carolina power, the pole manufacture etc.?

dichotomy
37652
Points
dichotomy 09/19/13 - 10:43 pm
11
2
They are suing Kingsley for

They are suing Kingsley for granting an easement to the power company? Really? Isn't that like the families of the victims on Flight 11 suing New York for issuing a building permit for the World Trade Center?

I know the investigation isn't finished yet but from all of the reports this sounds like a pretty simple case of pilot blows the approach, overshoots the runway, and realizes it too late to pull out. Even if it turns out the power pole was too tall, it certainly wouldn't be Kingsley's fault to granting an easement to a public utility for a power line. It would be the power company's fault for not complying with FAA height restrictions for structures near an airport.

Lawyers always sling mud at everybody and hope some of it will stick so they can get their cut.

thauch12
7076
Points
thauch12 09/19/13 - 11:28 pm
8
3
Frivolous.

The sad thing is that these snakes are actually going to walk away from these lawsuits with something because someone somewhere is going to settle. And by snakes I mean the lawyers "representing" these families (who aren't exactly angels themselves).
In a perfect world, a judge would throw out these nonsensical claims and fine these clowns for wasting everyones time but we unfortunately don't live in a perfect world.

scoobynews
3896
Points
scoobynews 09/20/13 - 04:14 am
8
2
Wow. I am sorry for the loss

Wow. I am sorry for the loss of life but we have become a sue happy nation. If we all sue for every tragic accident no one would be in business. Sad that this is even being pursued.

soapy_725
44151
Points
soapy_725 09/20/13 - 05:06 am
1
0
Negligence and Loss is all you need. They have the loss. Life
Unpublished

Negligence and Loss is all you need. They have the loss. Life

soapy_725
44151
Points
soapy_725 09/20/13 - 05:08 am
1
0
Aborted landing. Power lines at end of runway. No accident.
Unpublished

Aborted landing. Power lines at end of runway. No accident.

Little Lamb
49260
Points
Little Lamb 09/20/13 - 05:53 am
6
1
Wrong Way To Live

Filing unjust lawsuits such as these is the wrong way to live one's life. The plaintiffs would be better served by living a life of service as a memorial to those who lost their lives in the crash. Bitterness will beget more death.

seenitB4
98653
Points
seenitB4 09/20/13 - 06:57 am
6
2
Why so surprised?

I kinda expected this to happen.

Remember the hot coffee at McDonalds....weeell..

just an opinion
2951
Points
just an opinion 09/20/13 - 07:14 am
6
1
True ambulance chasers

We didn't expect anything different from our local attorney. Money, money, money.

ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts
11294
Points
ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts 09/20/13 - 07:25 am
4
3
Marinerman1
5499
Points
Marinerman1 09/20/13 - 07:32 am
8
1
Sad on so Many Different Levels

I am truly sorry for the losses suffered by the families, because I know it has been devastating. There was insurance, and I'm sure they have all been offered something. But to sue Dr. Roth's widow, that is really cold. They have apparently found an ambulance chaser - guess Ken Nugent was tied up. As long as things were all within specifications at the time of the crash, this IS a bunch of frivolous lawsuits. Sad...

Stunned 2
6332
Points
Stunned 2 09/20/13 - 07:53 am
6
1
'Deep Pockets"

Lawyers access a lawsuit's viability by how many 'Deep Pockets' they can deep into. This case has a lot of them: Government, an Energy-provider, a big corporation, the estate of a well-insured successful businessman/Doctor, and then there is also everybody related to the aircraft. Workman's comp pays work related death benefits + there's insurance. There seems to be fault some where in this horrible tragedy.

stuaby
4919
Points
stuaby 09/20/13 - 08:11 am
6
0
Wow

I don't think I've ever seen "carpet bombing" to this extent by lawyers. I guess they'll hit the jackpot one way or the other.

JRC2024
10561
Points
JRC2024 09/20/13 - 08:11 am
8
1
One of those lawyers sued me

One of those lawyers sued me because a motorcycle ran under the back of one of my trucks. Imagine that.

Red Headed Step Child
4496
Points
Red Headed Step Child 09/20/13 - 09:29 am
5
1
I agree - nothing will bring

I agree - nothing will bring any of these folks back. However, IF there was some gross negligence involved, there should be some accountability. There are still so many unanswered questions about this crash. Unfortunately, there are times when lawsuits are the catalysts for things to be addressed and resolved. Sad all around...

linux
96
Points
linux 09/20/13 - 09:34 am
5
2
It was the pilot's fault

The PIC (pilot in command) bears responsibility. He knew or should have known about the pole; it should have been marked on his charts if. Unfortunately, the pilot probably is not rich, so...

Sad what happened, but I hope the parties defend themselves against the suit. With the exception of the owner of the plane, they are not at fault.

Marinerman1
5499
Points
Marinerman1 09/20/13 - 09:43 am
7
1
I Don't Think the Owner is At Fault Either

I have to disagree with you Linux. I just think this was a horrible accident. And sometimes there is really no one 'at fault'.

GeorgiaCarolina
242
Points
GeorgiaCarolina 09/20/13 - 10:00 am
6
2
Missed Someone

The concrete company that delivered the concrete for the pole was not included in the list. How did that get missed?

This is a sad situation that has now become sad and pathetic.

bright idea
928
Points
bright idea 09/20/13 - 10:08 am
5
0
Other crashes?

How many other crashes have occurred at this airport? That should be the first line of defense.

Fiat_Lux
16445
Points
Fiat_Lux 09/20/13 - 10:41 am
8
0
Only bottom feeders would sue Roth's estate

He and his family were no less victims than any of these women or their families. In fact, given his education and skills, all of us have probably lost more with his death. Suing his widow is a sickening, low-life tactic and they all should be ashamed of themselves.

But there seems to be no limit to the level of disgust that people will sink to when it comes to money and revenge, and rationality is not part of picking the targets; only the probability that there is money to be gotten.

Sweet son
11770
Points
Sweet son 09/20/13 - 10:41 am
3
1
Something about this 'missed approach' smells.

Maybe the low pass was something else? The pilots had plenty of experience with this airport.

LocalLawyer
317
Points
LocalLawyer 09/20/13 - 11:38 am
4
3
I'll try to explain

I love all of you regulars. Let me say that first. I'm only typing this (as always) to try to explain why this happened, without going into too much detail.
The jury will be asked to assign a percentage of fault to each defendant (if fault is found). Not naming a company or a person risks not recovering for your client. For example, if something were to come out at the trial that indicated Dr. Roth was partially responsible (highly unlikely), and the lawyer for the families did not include him in the lawsuit, guess who just committed legal malpractice? That lawyer.
I know it looks bad to sue everyone, but lawyers do not have the luxury of being "polite" when the stakes are high.
Finally, try to put yourself in the shoes of the people who no longer have a mother, wife, sister, etc. If someone did something careless and your loved one died, I would think you may feel different about the sue-happy comments. No, money won't bring them back, but there certainly is a financial impact on the families (loss of a spouse's income) in addition to the unimaginable emotional impact.
As for workers' compensation, if they actually pursued this it would only pay for $7,500 in burial expenses (try planning a funeral with that budget), medical expenses (if any), and temporary total disability benefits of $500.00 per week (if the decedent had financial dependents). That's hardly going to adequately compensate the families, and on top of that, the insurance companies can subrogate (take a credit for) any amount of damages awarded to the families if their lawyers are crafty enough.
As for the hot coffee case, there was a lot more to that story than what you heard. That woman's genitals were burned so severely that she was unable to do a lot of things... (I'll leave that to the imagination.) And the temperature of the coffee was estimated by burn experts to be pretty damn hot. I think there is a youtube video out there explaining it if you are interested.
I pray for the families, some of which I personally knew.

seenitB4
98653
Points
seenitB4 09/20/13 - 11:43 am
6
1
Thankya local lawyer

Ok I'll say you have a point there....and since I know some lawyers & care DEEPLY for them (Freddie Sanders for one) but come on about the genitals....that lady was 80 years ole ..right?

nocnoc
49723
Points
nocnoc 09/20/13 - 11:45 am
5
2
Sorry for their loss - BUT

When this crash story broke many months ago it was clear from Eye Witnesses the Planes Pilot was the cause of the accident.
Now Lawyers are looking for deeper pockets.

Quoting the NTSB Preliminary Report
http://dms.ntsb.gov/aviation/AccidentReports/4ahr5l2l35lt4u55f1ogkv551/E...

http://www.ntsb.gov/aviationquery/brief.aspx?ev_id=20130220X11432&key=1

Witnesses reported that the airplane appeared to be in position to land when the pilot discontinued the approach and commenced a go-around. The witnesses observed the airplane continue down the runway at a low altitude.

The airplane struck a poured-concrete utility pole and braided wires about 59 feet above ground level. The pole was located about 1/4 mile east the departure end of runway 10. The utility pole was not lighted. During the initial impact with the utility pole, the outboard section of the left wing was severed. The airplane continued another 1/4 mile east before colliding with trees and terrain. A post crash fire ensued and consumed a majority of the airframe. The engines separated from the fuselage during the impact sequence. On-scene examination of the wreckage revealed that all primary airframe structural components were accounted for at the accident site. The landing gear were found in the down (extended) position, and the flap handle was found in the 10-degree (go-around) position.

An initial inspection of the airport revealed that the pilot-controlled runway lights were operational. An examination of conditions recorded on an airport security camera showed that the runway lights were on the low intensity setting at the time of the accident. The airport did not have a control tower. An inspection of the runway surface did not reveal any unusual tire marks or debris.

Weather conditions at HQU (Thomson) near the time of the accident included calm wind and clear skies.

In other words the pilot missed the landing, continued to fly below 60 feet, with the landing gear still down, flew to low with adjusted flaps and failed to power up to conduct a proper go-a-round.

LocalLawyer
317
Points
LocalLawyer 09/20/13 - 11:46 am
3
3
seenitB4, I'm not 100% sure,

seenitB4, I'm not 100% sure, but I think she couldn't go #1 anymore. I don't know her age either. But if I'm around at 80, I'm not giving up the other without a fight!!! :)

seenitB4
98653
Points
seenitB4 09/20/13 - 11:47 am
3
0
btw local lawyer

Which regular posters do you "really" love? haha

LocalLawyer
317
Points
LocalLawyer 09/20/13 - 11:50 am
5
0
All of them

I enjoy reading them, but don't post unless I can help explain something or I feel strongly about an issue. The "regulars" on here make excellent points, yourself included.

seenitB4
98653
Points
seenitB4 09/20/13 - 11:52 am
4
0
thankya local lawyer

Now I have to get busy again.....your answer makes me think you are an excellent lawyer..:)

myfather15
57307
Points
myfather15 09/20/13 - 12:25 pm
4
1
locallawyer

I get your point; so can you explain to us why, when the victims are suffering such emotional pain and anguish; the lawyers get approximately 40% of the settlement or judgment? Why wouldn't the lawyer settle for 15-20%? If successful, that would still be a very good amount.

Little Lamb
49260
Points
Little Lamb 09/20/13 - 12:25 pm
4
1
LocalLawyer's comments are always welcome

LocalLawyer posted:

No, money won't bring them back, but there certainly is a financial impact on the families (loss of a spouse's income).

That's what life insurance is supposed to be for.

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