Representatives of passengers killed in a Sept. 4, 2022, plane crash in Mutiny Bay have filed three lawsuits against multiple aircraft entities, including Renton company Northwest Seaplanes.
The pilot and all nine passengers on the scheduled flight from San Juan Island to Renton died as a result of injuries after the plane impacted and sank in the waters near Freeland and Whidbey Island.
The single-engine aircraft, capable of seating 10 to 11 passengers, slipped into a near-vertical descent prior to impact, potentially as a result of a missing or improperly installed horizontal stabilizer actuator lock ring, according to the National Transportation Safety Board’s investigation of the incident.
According to lawsuit documents, the horizontal stabilizer actuator — controlling the movement of the stabilizer that controls the up and down pitch of the aircraft — separated 20 minutes into the flight, resulting in the loss of ability to control pitch.
Witnesses on the coast of Whidbey Island rushed to help on boats within minutes of the crash to find debris and no survivors, according to lawsuit documents. On Sept. 9, crews pulled the wreckage from the sea floor.
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.
Representatives for eight of nine passengers filed three lawsuits on Aug. 22 against Renton company Northwest Seaplanes, aircraft manufacturer De Havilland Aircraft of Canada, and aviation entities Viking Air, Longview Aviation Capital Corp, and West Isle Air.
Katherine Hosker, representing deceased passengers Rebecca Ludwig and Luke Ludwig, filed a complaint for injuries and wrongful death damages.
In a second lawsuit, David McClinton, representing passengers Ross and Remy Mickel, filed a complaint for injuries and wrongful death damages.
In the third lawsuit, four representatives including Donna Hilty, Gregg Swanson, Stan Harrelson, Marcie Von Beck and Ricky Williams filed a lawsuit representing passengers Lauren Hilty and her unborn son Luca Mickel, Joanne Mera, Gabrielle Hanna and Sandra Williams. The lawsuit alleges a complaint for injuries and wrongful death.
The three lawsuits allege the crash served as the consequence of safety inadequacies in the design of the aircraft’s horizontal stabilizer actuator and negligence in maintenance and inspection of the aircraft.
“The De Havilland Defendants had a duty to warn of unsafe, dangerous conditions,” read McClinton’s lawsuit. “… The Northwest Seaplane Defendants had a duty to properly maintain and inspect the aircraft.”
The lawsuits argue for the liability of the aircraft entities for damages including the physical, mental and emotional damage on the passengers and passengers’ families, funeral expenses, lost earnings, punitive damages against the defendants, and more.
The King County Superior Court scheduled the trials for the three lawsuits for Aug. 19, 2024.