Articles Posted in Aviation

After a routine mosquito abatement flight, an airplane crash that left two dead will likely lead to changes at a Slidell airport.

Wayne Fisher, 68, and Donald Pechon, 59, were found dead after another pilot reported seeing a spark of electricity from high-power transmission lines near the Slidell Municipal Airport followed by a plume of flame just north of a runway.  The pilots collided with the transmission towers, according to a preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board.  The report notes that it was a calm, clear night at the time of the crash, with visibility at 10 miles.  According to Airport manager Richard Artigue, both men were experienced pilots and Fisher was a reserved deputy with the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office and flew helicopters in that capacity.

The primary factor in the crash, appears to be the location of the towers in relation to the airport.  Even though the towers conform to Federal Aviation Administration regulations, Artigue reported that local officials have long recognized the potential safety hazard.   While the only other fatal crash at Slidell Municipal Airport occurred in 1974, the April 19 crash has compelled officials to address the relocation of the transmission lines. As Artigue noted, the airport is used by far less experienced pilots than Fisher and Pechon and is heavily utilized for student pilot training.

An Oklahoma woman has filed suit against Rolls-Royce over the death of her husband, alleging that the engine of the helicopter he was piloting was defective and caused the fatal crash.

Collen Ricks of Grady County, Oklahoma, along with her two minor children, sued the Rolls-Royce Corporation on March 30 in the United States Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.  The complaint alleged that the defendant aircraft engine provider defectively designed and/or manufactured turbine systems that would develop cracks in the exhaust system.

According to the suit,  Brandon Ricks was piloting a Model 206 L-1 Bell Helicopter on a public use flight near Saucier, Mississippi pursuant to a contract with the U.S. Forest Service.  At some point during this flight, the helicopter suddenly lost power, causing the fatal crash in question.

A pilot’s wife has accused several companies of performing faulty maintenance on the helicopter her husband was flying when it suffered catastrophic engine failure, which led to his death.

Colleen Hicks, of Oklahoma, individually, on behalf of her minor children, and as representative of her husband, Brandon Seth Ricks, filed suit on December 10 against Cadorath Aerospace LaFayette LLC, H&H Turbine Services LLC and Rotorcraft Leasing Co. LLC, claiming negligence that resulted in Brandon Ricks’s death.

The complaint states that Brandon Ricks, age 40, was piloting a Model 206 L-1 helicopter from Griffin Memorial Airport in Mississippi to aid in a controlled burn initiated by the U.S. Forest Service on March 30.  At a point during the flight, engine failed, resulting in a crash that killed both Ricks and the passenger.  According to the suit, Cadorath and the other defendants performed negligent maintenance on the craft from 2009 to 2014 which caused the engine failure in question.

A three-vehicle crash in Delcambre resulted the death of an uncle and nephew from Abbeville, according to police reports.

On November 26, 2015, Jones Mitchell and Gerald Mitchell were traveling west on Suzuki motorcycles on LA 14 and approaching an east-west crossover.  An 18-wheeler, driven by Earnest Comesana Jr.,  was traveling east on LA 14 and approaching the same crossover.   Comesana turned left into the crossover to begin traveling east and the Mitchells were unable to avoid colliding with Comesana’s trailer as it entered their lane of travel.

Although the Mitchell’s were wearing Department of Transportation-approved helmets, both received fatal injuries as a result of the collision and were pronounced dead at the scene by the Iberia Parish Coroner’s Office.  Comensana was properly restrained at the time of the crash and received no injuries.

A tugboat captain has sued a fellow tug company as a result of an injury sustained while on the water, according to the filed complaint

Troy Matthiews, a tugboat captain for Bayou Vista, and Tracey, his wife, have filed suit against Crosby Tugs, citing negligence and personal injury stemming from an alleged incident occurring in 2014.

On November 30, 2014, Matthiews was attempting to cross from his boat, the Morgan Ray, to another tugboat, when both boats were passed by a third.  According to the complaint, the third boat, the Crosby Rambler, was going at an excessive rate of speed.  As a result, the wave generated in the Rambler’s wake knocked Matthiews off balance and tossed him between the two other boats, causing severe injury.

Another lawsuit has arisen from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, this time stemming from the cleanup of the aforementioned accident.

Josip Piacun filed a complaint against BP Exploration & Production Inc., and B.P. America Production Co. alleging gross negligence under general maritime law.  Piacun claimed that the company negligently exposed him to hazardous and cancer-causing compounds.

Piacun was hired as a vessel captain in April 20, 2010, in response to the BP oil spill.  While he was employed from June 2010 to December 2010, Piacun claims BP negligently exposed him to dermal and airborne chemical compounds that are generally accepted to be toxic, volatile, and carcinogenic.  The suit states that, as a result of this exposure, Piacun “developed psychological, dermal, respiratory, and cardiopulmonary complications.”

A Macy’s Department Store in Metairie recently became the subject of a premises liability action filed by a customer who reportedly slipped on a rug while shopping in the store.

The plaintiff reported that, in early December of 2013, she tripped and fell on a rug that was placed on the floor. As a result of her fall, the plaintiff claims that she injured her knee in the process. Attorneys for the plaintiff claim that the placement of the rug “created and represented an unreasonable risk of harm,” as well as demonstrating the merchant’s failure to properly inspect the premises and maintain a reasonably safe condition. The plaintiff seeks over $50,000 in compensatory damages.

The plaintiff’s lawsuit falls under the recognized theory of liability known “premises liability.” Premises liability against merchants is recognized in Louisiana and governed by Louisiana Revised Statutes 9:2800.6. This statute provides: “A merchant owes a duty to persons who use his premises to exercise reasonable care to keep his aisles, passageways, and floors in a reasonably safe condition. This duty includes a reasonable effort to keep the premises free of any hazardous conditions which reasonably my give rise to damage.”

Operating in violation of both the Clean Water Act (CWA) and the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA), ATP Infrastructure Partners LP (ATP-IP) has agreed to pay a $1 million civil penalty to settle a federal lawsuit over illegal discharges of oil and chemicals from an oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico.

The lawsuit, instituted by the United States, was resolved by way of joint judicial enforcement action involving the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), and the Justice Department.

In its complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, the United States alleged that ATP-IP “violated Section 311(b)(3) of the CWA when oil and other pollutants were discharged into the Gulf of Mexico from the ATP Innovator.” Violation of this provision in the CWA opened up ATP-IP to possible civil penalties. The United States also urged that ATP-IP was liable for injunctive relief under OCSLA, “as the owner of the ATP Innovator … [for] hidden piping configuration [that] was being used to inject a chemical dispersant into the facility’s wastewater discharge outfall pipe to mask excess amounts of oil being discharged into the ocean.”

Reduction of traffic accidents—particularly fatal traffic accidents—has long been at the center of public debate and the ambition of state and federal policymakers. The 1960s proved a watershed decade for transformation of traffic safety. With traffic fatalities on the rise in the 1960s, spiking at 49,000 traffic fatalities in 1965, public concern over traffic safety began to dominate the national discussion. Culminating with the 1965 publication of Ralph Nader’s “Unsafe at Any Speed”—a book that issued scathing criticisms of vehicle manufacturers for their willfully rejecting the addition of safety features into their automobiles—policymakers reacted. By calling on states to erect highway safety measures, the Highway Safety Act passed by Congress in 1966 was the first of many concentrated efforts to reduce this increasing problem. One important feature of this legislation was that it created the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, which primarily operates as a safety administrator, promulgating rules designed to increase safety on highways, but also to increase safety of the vehicles themselves by imposing regulations on manufacturers.

With the bulk of this debate happening from the 1960s forward, traffic safety has long been on the minds of citizens and policymakers. Improving safety based on readily observable causes—prohibiting intoxicated driving, reducing speed limits, requiring operating traffic signals, etc.—is one thing, but as a recent study reveals, sometimes the causal or correlative connection between a phenomenon and traffic safety is more mysterious.

A recent study by University of Colorado-Boulder PhD candidate Austin Smith revealed a curious correlation between daylight savings time and increased traffic fatalities. This study reviewed data on fatal vehicle accidents from 2002 to 2011 and compared the number of fatal accidents that occur just before and after daylight savings time changes took effect.

A recent Center for Disease Control and Prevention study reveals that oil and gas industry workers are seven times more likely to be killed while working than all other workers in the United Sates. Offshore fatalities from 2003-2010 were used in the study, based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Census of Fatal Occupational Industries.

Transportation accidents were noted as the cause for a high percentage of deaths. Over half of the accidents from 2003-2010 were transportation related. All transportation accidents occurred in the Gulf of Mexico and 49 were helicopter accidents.

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