Valujet Flight 592 crashed in the Florida Everglades on May 11, 1996, shortly after takeoff from Miami International Airport. Flight 592 was scheduled to be a non-stop flight to Atlanta’s Hartsfield airport. All 110 persons on board, including 105 passengers and 5 crew members, were killed. There were no ground casualties. The aircraft was totally destroyed on impact and few fragments of the aircraft were recovered by National Transportation Safety Board investigators. Slack & Davis attorneys represented the families of several passengers on this flight.
Details about the Crash
- Flight 592 crashed after a fire developed in a cargo bay where a box of chemical oxygen generators had been placed for shipment to Atlanta.
- There was no smoke or fire detection equipment in this cargo bay.
- The ensuing fire progressed so quickly, the pilots were unable to return the aircraft to Miami for landing. They soon lost control of the aircraft.
Investigation and Litigation
In the resulting investigation and litigation the focus was on how and why the hazardous oxygen generator canisters ended up in the passenger aircraft’s cargo bay. Valujet alleged that its contractor SabreTech was responsible for improperly handling, managing and storing the oxygen generator canisters. Valujet was alleged to have improperly selected and managed SabreTech.
Slack & Davis attorneys represented several passengers on the fatal flight. All of the firm’s cases resolved by settlement.
Of note was Slack & Davis’ representation of singer and songwriter Walter Hyatt, a Valujet 592 passenger. Walter Hyatt, founder of Uncle Walt’s Band, was a pioneer in the emerging live music scene in Austin, Texas. Born in Spartanburg, South Carolina, Hyatt teamed up with Champ Hood and David Ball to form Uncle Walt’s Band. Their iconic music inspired and influenced many other musicians including Lyle Lovett and Marcia Ball.
Hyatt moved to Nashville, Tennessee, with his family in 1987 and was pursuing his songwriting and solo career there at the time of his death. He was flying from an engagement in Florida to attend his oldest daughter’s graduation when he died in Valujet 592.