Originally created 08/13/02

Allgoods, pilot's family file suits



Family members of Thomas and Thelma Allgood and pilot Stephen Patterson, who were killed in a plane crash two years ago, have filed lawsuits.

The four grown sons of Mr. Allgood, the mother and brother of Mrs. Allgood, and Mr. Patterson's wife filed separate civil lawsuits in Richmond County Superior Court on Aug. 1-2. The wrongful-death lawsuits seek unspecified compensatory and punitive damages from Georgia Power and the makers and sellers of the Piper Malibu Mirage and its components - New Piper Aircraft, Inc., Avco Corp., Signature Combs Aircraft Sales Inc., and Textron Inc.

A lawsuit represents only one side of a dispute. The defendants have 30 days to respond to the allegations.

The former state senator, his wife and Mr. Patterson died Aug. 4, 2000, when a 1998 Piper Malibu Mirage crashed just after takeoff from Augusta's Daniel Field. The plane exploded when it hit a brick wall across Wrightsboro Road.

The National Transportation Safety Board's final report in December blamed pilot error for the accident, citing Mr. Patterson's elevated blood sugar level, his decision to use a short runway for takeoff and excessive cargo weight.

All the lawsuits allege that Georgia Power is partly responsible for the accident because it had placed a pole in the runway's protected area shortly before the accident. The victims' families further contend the pole was placed there without authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration. The lawsuits also allege the airplane and its components were defective.

In late December, Mr. Allgood's sons - Thomas F. Allgood Jr., Robert Lyn Allgood, Brian C. Allgood and Michael L. Allgood - filed suit against Mr. Patterson's estate and his employer, Augusta Aviation. The lawsuit ended in an undisclosed settlement in February.

Reach Sandy Hodson at (706) 823-3226 or shodson@augustachronicle.com.