Renton aircraft company denies liability in 2022 fatal crash

Pilot and all 9 passengers died after the plane crashed and sank in the waters near Whidbey Island.

Courtesy of National Transportation Safety Board documents
Crews pulled the wreckage of the plane crash from the seafloor five days after the accident on Sept. 9, 2022.

Courtesy of National Transportation Safety Board documents Crews pulled the wreckage of the plane crash from the seafloor five days after the accident on Sept. 9, 2022.

Renton charter airline company Northwest Seaplanes, a defendant in three lawsuits against multiple aircraft entities involved in a fatal 2022 plane crash, has denied liability in the incident.

Representatives of passengers killed in a Sept. 4, 2022, plane crash in Mutiny Bay filed three lawsuits on Aug. 22, 2023, against aircraft entities including Northwest Seaplanes, Canadian aircraft manufacturer De Havilland Aircraft of Canada Limited, and more.

The pilot and all nine passengers on the scheduled flight from San Juan Island to Renton died as a result of injuries after the plane slipped into a near-vertical descent, impacted, and sank in the waters near Freeland and Whidbey Island.

According to lawsuit documents and the National Transportation Safety Board’s investigation of the incident, the horizontal stabilizer actuator — controlling the movement of the stabilizer that controls the up and down pitch of the aircraft — separated 20 minutes into the flight and resulted in the loss of ability to control pitch, potentially as a result of a missing or improperly installed horizontal stabilizer actuator lock ring.

The three lawsuits argue for the liability of the aircraft entities for damages, alleging the crash served as the consequence of safety inadequacies in the design of the aircraft’s horizontal stabilizer actuator and negligence in maintenance and inspection of the aircraft.

“The De Havilland Defendants had a duty to warn of unsafe, dangerous conditions,” read David McClinton’s lawsuit for injuries and wrongful death damages of passengers Ross and Remy Mickel. “The Northwest Seaplane Defendants had a duty to properly maintain and inspect the aircraft.”

In three answers and cross claims to the three lawsuits filed against Northwest Seaplanes, the company denied any liability for relief requested from plaintiffs and admitted entitlement to relief for the plaintiffs from De Havilland Aircraft of Canada Limited.

“The injuries and damages alleged by the Plaintiffs were solely caused by the conduct, acts, and omissions of the (De Havilland Aircraft of Canada Limited defendants) over whom (Northwest Seaplanes) had no control,” the answers and cross claims stated.

In addition, Northwest Seaplanes filed for property damages and economic losses themselves against De Havilland Aircraft of Canada Limited.

“In purchasing (the aircraft), Northwest Seaplanes Inc. relied upon express and implied warranties made by the (De Havilland Aircraft of Canada Limited defendants),” Northwest Seaplanes’s cross claim states. “The conducts, acts, and omissions of the (De Havilland Aircraft of Canada Limited defendants) … constitute a breach of said warranties.”

Northwest Seaplanes stated the breaches in warranties served as the proximate cause of the destruction of the aircraft, with the company suffering property damage and economic losses as a result.

Northwest Seaplanes asked for the dismissal of the complaints facing the company, with the costs of the proceedings taxed against De Havilland Aircraft of Canada Limited.

The King County Superior Court scheduled the trials for the three lawsuits for Aug. 19, 2024.

Pilot Jason Winters and passengers Rebecca and Luke Ludwig, Ross and Remy Mickel, Lauren Hilty (eight months pregnant with son Luca Mickel), Joanne Mera, Gabrielle Hanna, Sandra Williams and Patricia Hicks all died in the accident.

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