The family of an Oklahoma concert and club promoter who was killed along with five others in an April 9, 2018, plane crash in Scottsdale, Arizona, has filed a lawsuit against the pilots and owner of the plane as well as MGM Resorts International.
According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Anand Anil “Happy” Patel, 26, was on his way to Las Vegas to promote MGM hotels and casinos when the Piper PA-24 Comanche carrying him and the five others crashed near Scottsdale Airport.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating the plane crash and has not yet released a final report. Other litigation connected to the crash remains on hold until that report is released. The NTSB’s preliminary report on the accident says that runway surveillance video shows the airplane’s wings “rocking during and shortly after rotation,” according to the Review-Journal.
Although investigators have not determined what caused the plane to crash, a Maricopa County medical examiner’s office report stated that one of the pilots, 28-year-old James Pedroza, had cocaine in his system. It is not known whether impairment caused or contributed to the crash.
In addition to Mr. Patel and Mr. Pedroza, the plane crash killed pilot trainer Erik Valente, 32; Instagram model and entrepreneur Helena Lagos, 22; graduate student Iris Carolina Rodriguez Garcia, 23; and Instagram model Mariah Sunshine Coogan, 23. All died of blunt-force injuries, according to a Maricopa County medical examiner’s office report.
Investigators have not said who was piloting but Ms. Coogan posted an Instagram video of herself aboard the aircraft just before the doomed flight that indicates that Mr. Pedroza was piloting. The photo says PILOT @itsactuallyprettydope, Mr. Pedroza’s Instagram account.
Ms. Coogan’s family filed a lawsuit in April 2019 against some of the same parties named in the Patel lawsuit. That complaint alleges that Mr. Pedroza, a student pilot, and Mr. Valente, a part-time aviation instructor, violated federal aviation regulations and operated the aircraft “in a careless and reckless manner so as to endanger the life of Coogan.”
The Patel lawsuit cites aviation regulations that prohibit pilots from “using any drug that affects the person’s faculties in any way contrary to safety.” Both lawsuits were filed in Clark County (Nevada) District Court.
It is unclear why MGM Resorts International is named as a defendant in the Patel lawsuit. According to the Review-Journal, an MGM spokesperson said it became aware of the plane crash only after the Patel suit was filed.
“We were not aware of this tragedy until the complaint was filed. We do not have any information regarding the facts described in the complaint at this time. We are looking into this further to determine why MGM Resorts was identified as a defendant.”
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.