In 2014, a plane crash occurred in Maryland where a private jet flew into a home that led to the death of a woman and her two small children. A wrongful death claim brought by the husband, Kenneth Gemmel, has finally been resolved. Gemmel has endured a great deal of stress after losing his family and hopes the settlement brings him a sense of closure.
The details of the agreement were not made public in accordance with a confidentiality clause. The defendants were Embraer, the jet manufacturer, Michael Rosenberg, the deceased pilot, and Health Decisions Inc., the company using the aircraft at the time. Gemmel's surviving daughter will receive an annuity as part of the arrangement.
The accident occurred amid wintry conditions as the plane neared the Montgomery County Airport in Gaithersburg. The plane apparently stalled out due to ice which had formed on the aircraft. Rosenberg, who was 66 at the time, was believed to have failed to de-ice the plane and improperly advanced toward the runway.
Embraer was alleged to have designed the aircraft in a faulty manner because it was not equipped with an automatic system for activating ice-removal. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) report indicated that Rosenberg was traveling much too slowly when approaching the runway.
The de-icing system had been activated manually for approximately two minutes, yet it was turned back off despite an audio instruction from the weather observation system that reminded them to leave it on. If the pilot had adhered to the proper operation, the ice protection capabilities would have kept the engine from freezing.
The plane actually struck three nearby homes before becoming engulfed in flames, killing the pilot and two others onboard. Marie Gemmell had been at home on maternity leave with her newborn and three-year at the time when a plane crashed into the house.
The cockpit voice & data recorder (CVDR) showed the pilot had improperly set the landing reference speed and accounted for the ice that accumulated. Investigators believe that the pilot was aware of the snow falling in the area prior to descending. For some reason, the indicator showing that the motor had stalled was delayed. Upon stalling, the plane had already descended too far in order to correct the landing.
The NTSB report suggested that planes similar to the Phenom 100 model should be equipped with an automatic means of alerting when ice accumulation occurs. They felt this feature would be particularly important when a single pilot was operating. The two passengers of the plane also have civil cases pending.
Embraer asserted a “state of the art” defense under the statute which applies in actions of product liability. This law may be used by a defendant who is a manufacturer where they cite that at the time it was made, the product was of superior scientific and technical quality. Apparently, the first several models of this plane offered an optional ice sensor, it was not continued as an available safety item.