Renton company continues legal battle in 2022 fatal plane crash

Legal battles continue over liability in a fatal 2022 plane crash involving a Renton charter airline company, Northwest Seaplanes.

Canadian aircraft manufacturer De Havilland Aircraft of Canada and additional aircraft entities responded in December 2023 to cross claims filed by Northwest Seaplanes, denying the company’s allegations that they lacked any liability in the incident, and “specifically” denying the company’s allegations for entitlement of relief from De Havilland themselves.

Three lawsuits from representatives of passengers killed in a Sept. 4, 2022, plane crash in Mutiny Bay target the aircraft entities, including Northwest Seaplanes, De Havilland Aircraft of Canada, and more, alleging the crash served as a consequence of safety inadequacies and negligence.

In Northwest Seaplanes’ cross claims, the company denied any liability for relief requested from plaintiffs in the lawsuits and admitted entitlement to the plaintiffs relief from De Havilland; in addition to filing for property damages and economic losses themselves against De Havilland Aircraft of Canada Limited.

“The injuries and damages alleged by the plaintiffs were solely caused by the conduct, acts, and omissions of the (De Havilland Aircraft of Canada Limited defendants) over whom (Northwest Seaplanes) had no control,” the answers and cross claims stated.

De Havilland denied Northwest Seaplanes’s allegations that breaches in warranties from De Havilland served as the proximate cause of the destruction of the aircraft.

De Havilland requested the dismissal of Northwest Seaplanes’s cross claims, setting forth affirmative defenses including that damages resulted from negligence of persons and entities De Havilland held no responsibility for and that damages resulted from misuse and failure to properly maintain or repair the subject aircraft and component parts.

“The accident resulted from unavoidable accident, sudden emergency, act of God, inevitable circumstances, or conditions or occurrences for which [De Havilland] defendants are not liable,” stated De Havilland documents.

Pilot Jason Winters and passengers Rebecca and Luke Ludwig, Ross and Remy Mickel, Lauren Hilty (eight months pregnant with son Luca Mickel), Joanne Mera, Gabrielle Hanna, Sandra Williams and Patricia Hicks all died in the accident after the plane slipped into a near-vertical descent, impacted, and sank in the waters near Freeland and Whidbey Island on a scheduled flight from San Juan Island to Renton. According to lawsuit documents and the National Transportation Safety Board’s investigation of the incident, a component part, responsible for controlling the movement of the stabilizer that controlled the up and down pitch of the aircraft, separated 20 minutes into the flight

The trials for the three lawsuits remain scheduled for Aug. 19, 2024, in King County Superior Court.