Miami, Florida – A Miami Beach aviation accident involving a Chalk’s seaplane three years ago has spawned New York and Miami, Florida product liability lawsuits. Two such lawsuits were recently filed against the manufacturer of the seaplane alleging that the Grumman Turbo Mallard seaplane was defective.
Chalk’s Ocean Airways, the former seaplane airline, and its insurance company, AIG have both sued the manufacturer of the aircraft, alleging that it’s design was dangerous and defective, causing the airplane crash that killed 20 people including the crew.
The federal court lawsuits in Miami and New York, claim that the 58-year-old seaplane manufactured by Grumman — now Northrop Grumman — was “not adequately designed for its intended purpose.”
Chalk’s attorneys claim that the airline was forced to go out of business by the defective nature of this airplane.
A spokesperson for Northrop Grumman, the Los Angeles based manufacturer, refused to comment on the lawsuits.
The Chalk’s seaplane caught fire and crashed into the water off Miami Beach on Dec. 19, 2005. The flight was bound for Bimini, a small island in the Bahamas.
In May 2007, the National Transportation Safety Board investigation determined that the plane crash was caused by the separation of the plane’s right wing. It also found that Chalk’s deficient maintenance program was also a contributing cause of the crash.
Chalk’s owner claims that the the cracks were caused by the plane’s defective design and had nothing to do with it’s maintenance program. The suit papers allege a manufacturing defect with the rivets where the wing separated from the fuselage and that they were in an area that is enclosed and cannot be inspected.
AIG paid $50 million in damages to the survivors of the crash victims. It filed a separate lawsuit against Northrop Grumman for subrogation essentially seeking reimbursement of the money it had to pay out.
In December 2005, the Federal Aviation Administration grounded all Grumman G-73 aircraft still registered in the United States until a determination could be made that the airframes were structurally sound.
No other commercial operators were still using these seaplanes. The last Mallard seaplanes were manufactured in 1951.
Chalk’s never had a fatal accident before the crash in 2005.
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