The child of a local passenger who died in a Tennessee plane crash on December 26, 2016, has filed a Federal Tort Claim against the U.S. Government for the wrongful death of his mother. The complaint alleges that Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) air traffic controllers were negligent in their handling of the aircraft as it conducted a final approach into Gatlinburg Pigeon Forge Airport. The plaintiff alleges that controllers were providing radar flight following services to the pilot when they allowed the plane to descend below the minimum vectoring altitude into the side of a mountain. Spohrer Dodd is currently handling this case.
As profiled in a recent Action News Jacksonville report, the lawsuits stem from a Christmas vacation flight that went missing on December 26, 2016. It was later discovered the plane had crashed into the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee while flying through low visibility conditions. All three occupants on board – a Bradford County pilot, his son, and his girlfriend – died in the crash.
As the wrongful death lawsuit claims, the FAA failed to warn the pilot, who controllers were observing on radar during the approach, that he was descending directly into the mountain peak,
In response to the claims, the federal government has blamed the pilot for causing the crash. A National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) report noted a conversation with the pilot’s former flight instructor who claimed that “he was a low-time, flat-land pilot with no mountain experience” and that he “counseled him numerous times about taking instrument training and getting an instrument rating.”
The investigation also noted a toxicology report that detected a stimulant/appetite suppressant known as phentermine in the pilot’s system which he had not disclosed in his FAA medical records. Although the report clarifies that there is no known relationship between tissue levels and impairment for this substance.
As the lawsuit against the FAA proceeds, our award-winning attorneys intend to rebut the defense made by the federal government, which attempts to shift all of the blame from the air traffic controllers to the pilot. Spohrer Dodd will provide substantial evidence that the FAA’s actions fell below the standard of care and contributed to the plaintiff’s damages. We intend to prove that the controllers’ failure to provide any verbal warnings to the pilot or request confirmation that he had terrain in sight, while they observed the aircraft descend below the minimum vectoring altitude into mountainous terrain, was a legal cause of this accident.
Spohrer Dodd is an elite personal injury law firm comprised of Board Certified Aviation Specialists, FAA-licensed airplane and helicopter pilots, and talented trial lawyers equipped with over 150 years of combined experience. Over the years, our legal team has helped victims and families navigate the complexities of seeking justice following a range of private, commercial, and military aviation accidents. We intend to fight aggressively on behalf of our clients as we seek the full and fair compensation they deserve.
If you or someone you love has been injured in an aviation accident, or have lost a loved one in a preventable crash, Spohrer Dodd is available to discuss your rights, options, and how we can help you navigate the legal journey ahead. Contact us to speak with a member of our team.