An Illinois company had a flight from Bloomington, Illinois to a business meeting in Wheeling, West Virginia, carrying two pilots and three passengers. The flight was originally supposed to use the jet owned by the business, but due to maintenance and pilot issues, a small single engine Piper Saratoga, also owned by the business, was used for the flight instead. The Illinois business who owned and operated the Saratoga did not properly prepare for the flight and departed Bloomington with the Saratoga over its maximum gross weight, with a center of gravity to far aft, and without necessary fuel reserves. Upon reaching Wheeling that night, the Saratoga encountered poor weather conditions with low clouds and fog. Rather than proceeding to one of the other nearby airports which were reporting good weather conditions, the pilot attempted to execute the instrument approach into Wheeling. However, the Saratoga crashed about a half mile west of the airport and killed all onboard.
Our firm represented the family of one of the passengers aboard the Saratoga, bringing a claim in Federal Court in West Virginia. The complaint filed in the West Virginia court alleged that the pilot in command of the aircraft, who was also the CEO of the business, made inadequate preparations for the flight and failed to properly execute the instrument approach. About a month before the West Virginia trial, a successful settlement agreement was reached between the Illinois business and the deceased passenger’s wife and daughters.