The family of former Ondo State Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, late Deji Falae, has requested the Federal High Court in Lagos to hold Associated Aviation Nigeria Ltd and the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) responsible for Deji’s death in an air crash through negligence.
The deceased, at the time of the incident, was serving as commissioner and was a passenger on board Flight 361 that crashed on October 3, 2013 while conveying the remains of former Ondo State governor, late Olusegun Agagu for funeral service in Akure, Ondo State capital.
The wife of the late Falae, Ese and her three teenage children are claiming damages from the defendants for alleged negligence.
Specifically, they are claiming $100,000 as general damages and N219,906,250 which the deceased would have earned in 15 years as a lawyer, commissioner and owner of a construction firm had he not died.
The plaintiffs sought, in the alternative, N108,527,750, £160,740 and $19,000 as special damages for alleged breaches of the defendants’ respective duties under the Civil Aviation Act 2006, Fatal Accident Act 1846 and Fatal Accident Law of Lagos State.
They also asked for N5million as cost of filing the suit and legal fees, and 10 per cent interest on the post-judgment sum.
The family claims that Associated Aviation, which operated the chartered aircraft, breached Section 74 of the Civil Aviation Act 2006 by failing to procure a legally binding insurance policy covering its liabilities, including compensation for damages that may be sustained by third parties.
It also wants the court to hold that the company breached statutory duties imposed by Section 55 of the Act when its aircraft at about 9.32 am, a minute after take-off, crash just outside the aerodrome and caused the deceased’s death.
“The first defendant flew its Flight 361 in such as manner as to cause danger to the occupiers of the aircraft and indeed caused the death of the deceased.
“The only inference that can be drawn from the circumstances of this incident is that the first defendant was negligent or lax in carrying out its duties to the occupiers of the flight,” the plaintiff said.
The plaintiff said the NCAA also failed in its duties to ensure that the aircraft was safe to fly.
“By virtue of Section 31 (f) of the Civil Aviation Act 2006, the second defendant has a statutory duty to ensure efficiency and regularity of air navigation and the safety of aircraft, persons and property carried in the aircraft and for preventing it from endangering persons and property,” it said.
But, the defendants are praying the court to dismiss the suit.
NCAA said the aircraft was airworthy as at the time of the crash and had a valid certificate of air worthiness.
“The investigation conducted by the Accident Investigation Bureau did not indict the second defendant (NCAA),” it said.
It added that the aircraft was insured as at the time of the crash.
“The aircraft was used for charter and while on ground, all required routine maintenance were carried out effectively, NCAA said.
Justice Hadiza Shagari adjourned until July 10 for adoption of addresses.