JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A lawsuit has been filed against the company that operated the 737 charter plane that skidded off the runway at Naval Air Station Jacksonville and into the St. Johns River two months ago.
It appears to be the first lawsuit filed from the May 3 crash.
The National Transportation Safety Board said 136 passengers and seven crew members were on board. Nearly two dozen of those people were injured.
In the eight-page complaint filed in federal court, lawyers claim the plane was too high, too fast and off-center. Lawyers also said the pilots shouldn’t have tried to land there in bad weather.
The plane was destined for trouble, according to attorney Galen Bauer, with the Jacksonville firm Spohrer and Dodd.
Miami Air Flight 293 took off from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, with mechanical problems and a forecast of bad weather in Jacksonville. The Federal Aviation Administration warns pilots to maintain 20 miles separation from any thunderstorm, Bauer said.
“The aircraft had air conditioning that wasn’t properly working, it had thrust reversers that weren’t properly working, it flew in a very low altitude for this kind of an aircraft,” Bauer said.
Bauer filed the suit on behalf of Gary Moss, a government contractor in his 50s from south Florida. Bauer provided a picture showing injuries to his right arm after surgery.
“Mr. Moss suffered an injury to his right arm,” Bauer told News4Jax. “He suffered a tendon rupture and a triceps muscle tear in his right arm. He had to have that surgically repaired.”
According to the complaint:
As a direct and proximate result of the accident, Plaintiff has suffered bodily injuries and has been forced to incur the expense of medical care, nursing care and treatment. Plaintiff has also been forced to endure disability, pain, suffering, mental anguish, embarrassment, inconvenience, loss of earnings, loss of the ability to earn money, loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life, and aggravation of a previous condition.”
In the suit, lawyers claim the Miami Air pilots didn’t listen to advice from air traffic controllers.
“When Flight 293 arrived at Runway 10 at about 9:49 p.m. local time, the airplane was too high, too fast, and right of the runway’s centerline,” the complaint alleges. “Flight 293 touched down with an airspeed of about 200 miles-per-hour, which is about 25 miles-per-hour faster than appropriate.”
That, along with standing water on the runway, a strong tailwind and no working reverse thrusters caused it to skid off the runway and into the water, according to the suit.
The lawsuit is seeking at least $156,000 in damages; possibly much more if Miami Air can’t prove it’s not at fault.
“This was a flight that landed in bad weather when there is no reason to do so,” Bauer said. “This was an isolated thunderstorm over NAS Jacksonville. They could have circled, they could have diverted to another airfield, but to land in the middle of a thunderstorm with bad equipment, with a tailwind going too fast, it’s just inexplicable.”
Bauer said his firm has about 14 other clients from that flight with varying degrees of injuries. Other attorneys told News4Jax they also intend to sue the Miami-based airline company.
News4Jax contacted Miami Air executives by phone and email for comment, but have not received a response.
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