AP Photo/Lynne Sladky
AP Photo/Lynne Sladky
Relatives of the four members of the singer's entourage who were killed along with the singer have filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against Rivera's company and the previous and current owners of the aircraft, alleging that the 43-year-old jet was negligently maintained and the 78-year-old pilot and 20-year-old copilot were not properly licensed to carry passengers for hire.
The Learjet 25 carrying five passengers and two pilots crashed en route from Monterrey to Mexico City, where Rivera was scheduled to serve as a judge on the Mexican version of The Voice, early on the morning of Dec. 9.
The families of Rivera's publicist, Arturo Rivera, makeup artist Jacobo Yebale, hairstylist Jorge Armando Sanchez Vasquez and attorney Mario Macias Pacheco are seeking economic damages to compensate for loss of support, benefits, funeral costs, etc., as well as noneconomic damages for "loss of love, companionship, comfort...protection, affection, moral support" and other intangible assets, according to the lawsuit filed today in Los Angeles Superior Court and obtained by E! News.
Jenni Rivera Enterprises, per the suit, "interviewed, chose, selected, hired, directed and supervised" aircraft owners Starwood Management and Rodatz Financial Group to provide what the deceased and their families assumed would be "safe and reliable air transportation" on this particular trip.
"Neither pilot was licensed to operate this aircraft at the time and altitude it was flying," Paul Kiesel, an attorney for the plaintiffs, told reporters at a press conference today.
"We cast a wide net to find out exactly who is responsible and it may be that they're not. We have named Rivera Enterprises, who likely arranged the charter of this plane, in hindsight a very bad decision."
The plaintiffs' legal camp says they are seeking punitive damages from the aircraft owners and previous owner McOco Inc., but not from Rivera's company. Rivera's personal estate is not named in the suit.
Starwood Management exec Christian E. Esquino Nuñez, in being questioned about the condition of the aircraft, previously told investigators that the Learjet 25 was well-maintained and that he believed the pilot, Miguel Perez Soto, had suffered a heart attack midair.