The husband of a Carley McCord, a Louisiana sports journalist who was among five people killed in a December plane crash, has filed a lawsuit against the owner of the airplane and the pilot’s estate.
Steven Ensminger Jr., the son of LSU offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger, filed the wrongful death lawsuit in Lafayette Parish court seeking “fair and reasonable” damages for his wife’s death.
Ms. McCord, 30, was flying to Atlanta to watch the Peach Bowl college football playoff game in Atlanta between Louisiana State University and Oklahoma on Dec. 28 when the plane crashed while attempting to make an emergency landing.
The eight-seat Piper Multi-Engine Cheyenne airplane reportedly struck a power line and crashed near a U.S. post office building a mile west of Lafayette Regional Airport (LFT).
In addition to Ms. McCord, the crash killed Ian Biggs, 51, the pilot; Robert Vaughn Crisp, II, 59; Gretchen D. Vincent, 51; and Michael Walker Vincent, 15. Another passenger, Stephen Wade Berzas, 37, survived the crash and was taken to a local hospital in critical condition with burns on more than 75% of his body.
Three others on the ground near the post office were also injured, including a woman with burns that covered 30% of her body.
Mr. Ensminger Jr. filed the lawsuit earlier this month, naming as defendants the plane’s owners Global Data Systems, Inc., Cheyenne Partners, LLC., Eagle Air, LLC. and Southern Lifestyle Development Company, LLC.. The lawsuit also seeks damages from two insurance companies — Sompo International Holdings and LTD and Endurance American Insurance Company, in addition to the estate of Mr. Biggs.
The Ensminger lawsuit alleges Ms. McCord’s death was the result of negligence on the part of the plane’s owners and Mr. Biggs. The lawsuit says the owners failed to properly maintain the aircraft and negligently allowed Mr. Biggs to fly it in poor weather without proper training.
According to the Lafayette Daily Advertiser, Global Data Systems is owned by Charles Vincent, whose wife Gretchen and 15-year-old son Michael died in the plane crash. Robert Vaughn Crisp II, another victim, was the vice president of business development and field services at the company, and Mr. Berzas served as the vice president of sales.
Mr. Ensminger claims that the plane’s owners and pilot owed passengers a “duty of care to inspect, service, repair, maintain and control the aircraft in a safe and airworthy condition so as not to cause injury or death to passengers.” He alleges the owners and Mr. Biggs breached those duties when they failed to properly inspect and maintain the airplane.
The lawsuit also alleges the owners failed to supervise Mr. Biggs, who “lacked the experience and/or training to operate (the plane) in less than ideal meteorological conditions …” Weather in the area was overcast with low visibility and a cloud base starting about 200 feet, the NTSB reported.
The cause of the plane crash has not been determined and remains under investigation. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which is leading the probe, said that the pilot did not make any distress calls before the crash, nor was the landing gear down. A final report and determination could take 6-12 months to complete.
According to WDSU-TV, Ms. McCord was a freelance sideline and sports reporter for various networks, including Cox Sports Television, ESPN3, and WDSU-TV. She was also the digital media reporter for the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and the in-game host for the New Orleans Pelicans and the New Orleans Saints.
Beasley Allen lawyer Mike Andrews focuses much of his practice on aviation litigation and currently represents families of Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 victims involving the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. In addition to his Ethiopian Airlines crash clients, Mike has represented people seriously injured in a variety of aviation crashes, and the families of those killed in both civilian and military airplane crashes and helicopter crashes.