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The Matassini Law Firm, P.A. Your trusted legal advisors since 1976

Family Of Plastic Surgeon Files Lawsuit After Airplane Death


A highly successful plastic surgeon and flight instructor lost his life after his plane crashed shortly after takeoff. According to the family, an airport worker placed the wrong fuel in the tank. When the pilot realized there was something wrong with the plane, he tried to turn it back to the airport. However, he crashed into a bean field and lost his life. Now, the family is suing the airport for the mistake that cost the surgeon his life.

Accident reports 

The accident report notes that several mistakes were made by the pilot prior to liftoff, including the failure to check the fuel to ensure that it was the proper fuel, the proper grade, and there was enough of it. Then, when the plane began showing signs of distress, the pilot should have leveled the wings to the ground and found a safe place to land. Instead, the pilot turned the plane back which caused it to stall and drop from the sky.

According to the employee who furnished the wrong fuel, he asked the doctor if he wanted “jet fuel” in the plane and the doctor responded affirmatively. However, the plane was a propeller plane, not a jet plane. It only looked like a jet plane.

Meanwhile, jet planes and propeller planes have differently shaped gas holes, so the employee had to use the wrong nozzle and awkwardly fit it into the wrong-shaped gas hole. He was able to do this by changing the angles of the nozzle. However, that could have been an indication that something was horribly wrong. The employee said that the doctor confirmed once again that jet fuel was the proper fuel and after inspecting the tank, gave the employee the thumbs up.

The lawsuit against the airport and the city was settled for a reported $700,000 although several reports indicated that the pilot’s failure was much greater than that of a low-level airport employee.

There is further indication that the doctor was flying without permission. According to supervisors at the airport, the same plane had been earmarked for training exercises. However, the doctor took the plane anyway.

But the plaintiffs were able to convince someone that the doctor would have never ordered the wrong fuel for the plane having been a flight instructor himself for the past 15 years and having flown the same plane several times before. Hence, the city settled the lawsuit.

Had the case gone to trial, it would have likely gone the city’s way. The city would have accurately claimed that the pilot/doctor made several errors in judgment prior to liftoff. Once the plane was in the air, he made more errors in judgment. That means that at least some of the liability falls on the pilot.

Talk to a Tampa Personal Injury Attorney 

If you’ve been injured due to the negligence of another party, call the Tampa personal injury attorneys at The Matassini Law Firm today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can recover damages related to your injuries.


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