Negligent Air Traffic Controllers Results in General Aviation Lawsuit

Case Title: Kipp v. United States of America

On December 18, 2005, a Cessna 195, N22L, made an emergency landing in the ocean near St. Augustine, Florida after the plane lost engine power. The pilot and two passengers, both minor girls, were killed. One passenger, also a minor girl, was injured. The flight originated at Jacksonville Executive at Craig Airport in Jacksonville, Florida, and was headed to Treasure Coast International Airport (formerly St. Lucie County International Airport) in Fort Pierce, Florida. The surviving passenger stated that as they hit the water, she was thrown back into the baggage compartment, where she was able to exit the baggage compartment door. She began to swim to shore. She stated that the passengers had all attempted to put on life jackets as the plane glided into the ocean. The other two passengers and the pilot all drowned.

Slack Davis Sanger represented the estate of the pilot’s daughter’s sixteen-year-old friend who drowned. Ladd Sanger brought suit against the United States government for the negligence of the air traffic controllers who failed to respond appropriately to the pilot’s requests. Several experts engaged by Mr. Sanger testified that had the controller issued vectors to the beach as the pilot asked, they were well within gliding distance and may have been able to successfully land the plane there safely. The air traffic controllers also failed to immediately notify the Coast Guard to begin rescue attempts, even though they knew that the plane could not maintain altitude and the passengers were likely to need assistance. Ladd Sanger secured a pre-trial settlement from the US government on behalf of the deceased girl’s family.

Ladd Sanger is an attorney and a licensed pilot who focuses on aviation accidents, including product liability, product litigation, and representing clients who have been injured as a result of aviation accidents. His experience as a pilot helps him understand the technical aspects of aviation crashes.

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