A wrongful death lawsuit has been filed on behalf of five tourists who were killed this summer when a New York City helicopter tour collided in mid-air with an airplane over the Hudson River.
The complaint was filed earlier this month in the U.S. District Court in Newark on behalf of Fabio Gallazzi, Giacomo Gallazzi, Tiziana Pedroni, Filippo Norelli and Michele Norelli. The estate of the airplane pilot, Steve Altman, the owner of the plane, LCA Partnership, the helicopter’s owner, Meridian Consulting I Corporation, Inc., and Liberty Helicopters, Inc., which operate the Eurocopter the tourists were in, were all named as defendants.
The plaintiffs were tourists from Italy taking an aerial tour of the city on August 8, when their helicopter crashed into a Piper aircraft being flown by Altman. Nine people in both aircraft were killed, including the five Italian tourists, the holicopter pilot, Altman, his brother and his nephew.
Following the helicopter accident, national media attention focused on allegations that a flight controller was too busy with a personal call to acknowledge the airplane pilot’s request to change court to avoid air traffic before the crash.
Air traffic control tower transcripts seemed to indicate that Altman’s request to fly at 3,500 feet to avoid air traffic was shrugged off by an air traffic controller in Teterboro, New Jersey, who was talking on a personal phone call at the same time. The controller transferred responsibility for Altman’s plane to Newark Liberty International Airport and the controller’s supervisor was gone from the tower, allegedly on an unauthorized personal errand.
Altman’s wife, Pamela Altman, filed a wrongful death lawsuit over the crash against Liberty and Meridian as well, alleging that both companies have horrible safety track records, stating that they were known for treating the airways above New York City like a game of “bumper cars.”