Two new lawsuits claiming negligence have been filed by family members of victims of a deadly 2016 Sevier County sightseeing helicopter crash.
Together, the suits seek $250 million in damages from those connected to the aircraft’s operation.
The Bell 206L helicopter, run by Smoky Mountain Helicopters, crashed just after 4 p.m. on April 4, 2016. All five people on board were killed. The NTSB investigation is ongoing.
The first suit was filed by Keith Morvant, husband to Johna Morvant, and Lynne Frederick, Johna’s mother. Johna and her two children, Parker and Peyton Rasmussen, were killed when the aircraft crashed on April 4, 2016. Autopsy reports previously showed Johna died of blunt force trauma, while Parker and Peyton were killed by the ensuing post-crash fire.
The suit names M-Helicopters of Tennessee, operator Smoky Mountain Helicopters, maintenance company Vertiflite Air Services, as well as chopper owner Rock Riggs, Jon Riggs, and David Noble. It also includes pilot Jason Dahl, and his estate.
Dahl, 49, was also killed in the crash.
The lawsuit alleges seven counts of negligence, one against each of the named defendants, and a final court of “Gross Negligence against All Defendants.”
“The Defendants willfully and wantonly disregarded Johna’s safety and rights,” the complaint reads.
The Morvants request a jury trial, and seek compensatory damages of $10 million, and punitive damages of $15 million, according to the documents.
The second lawsuit was filed by Scott Rasmussen, father to Parker and Peyton, and Delavae Carlson, mother to Michael Mastalez. It names Smoky Mountain Helicopters, M-Helicopters of Tennessee, and the Riggs family. It does not name pilot Jason Dahl or his estate.
“The crash was survivable, but the helicopter burst into flames and the fire caused the death of all occupants on board, including Plaintiffs’ decedents Peyton Nicole Rasmussen, Parker Stone Rasmussen and Michael Glenn Mastalez,” the complaint states.
A medical examiner determined Johna died of blunt force trauma.
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The suit includes counts of negligence and strict liability against each of the following: Smoky Mountain Helicopters, M-Helicopters, and Bobby Riggs. Rock and Hillda Riggs are also accused of negligence. Finally, the suit includes a count of ‘Constitutional Challenge.’
The families ask for a jury trial, and are seeking $25 million per death in compensatory damages, and $50 million per death in punitive damages.
This brings the total lawsuits filed in connection to the April 2016 crash to three – the first was filed against Bobby Riggs in Florida back in January.