– Helicopter crash victim’s family sues aviation companies, pilot.
MANHATTAN – A crash victim’s family is suing the aviation companies and pilot involved in the deadly East River crash last year.
It doesn’t get much colder than this.
An attorney for the helicopter company whose “doors off” tourist flight crashed into the East River last spring, killing all four passengers, says one of the victims dug his own watery grave.
“Trevor Norris Cadigan voluntarily undertook and assumed the known risk of being a passenger in a ‘doors off’ flight while knowingly being restrained by a harness from which he could not easily release himself,” Airbus Helicopters’ lawyer Thomas M. Mealiffe says bluntly in new court papers.
“Plaintiffs’ recovery should be barred and/or reduced to the extent that plaintiffs have failed to mitigate their alleged damages, and any recovery shall not include alleged damages that could have been avoided by reasonable care and diligence,” Mealiffe wrote.
The family of 26-year-old victim Cadigan sued the chopper company and the pilot, who was the only one to escape alive from the March river plunge.
The 26-year-old Dallas native and his fellow passengers were trapped upside-down in the helicopter because they were strapped into their seats for the open-door sightseeing flight that allows passengers to take breathtaking photographs along the way.
“We can only imagine what the final moments of his life were like as he was struggling for breath because he couldn’t extricate himself,” the Cadigan family’s lawyer Gary Robb told The Post.
“The family is simply shocked and outraged that their son drowned to death in this manner in what was supposed to be a pleasurable sightseeing helicopter tour,” Robb said, noting how there was “no prospect of his safely evacuating the helicopter in that crash scenario.”
The family’s Manhattan Supreme Court suit faults the defendants for failure to provide “proper and safe aircraft and aircraft services.”
Robb blasted Airbus’ response. “There’s no question that nobody in that position assumed any risk of being drowned in that helicopter,” Robb said.
He’s still awaiting the Federal Aviation Administration’s report on the crash.
But in March, the FAA told helicopter operators to suspend “doors off” flights and give “urgent attention to harness use.”
M. Mealiffe referred questions to his firm’s spokeswoman, who did not return messages.
Robb said he doubts Mealiffe will blame the victim at trial, predicting that such a strategy would “backfire.”
And he has a record of winning in similar cases.
He scored a $100 million cash settlement on behalf of a passenger who was severely burned in a crash — and claims to hold the record for highest jury verdict in history for a helicopter crash, at $350 million.
He hopes the Cadigan suit will prompt charter chopper companies to put an end to open-door flights.