Katz Heirs File Suit Over Deadly Crash

Inky co-owner died in 2014.
Both photos, Associated Press

Both photos, Associated Press

The family of Lewis Katz has filed a wrongful death lawsuit in the 2014 Massachusetts plane crash that took his life.

The Boston Globe reports the suit was filed Wednesday in Boston’s Suffolk Superior Court. The eight defendants include the airplane maker, Gulfstream Aerospace Corp., as well as MassPort, the operator of Hanscom Field where the crash occurred. The estates of the two pilots, James McDowell and Bauke “Mike” Devries, are also named in the suit.

Other defendants are Rockwell Collins Inc.; SK Travel, LLC, the plane owner; Arizin Ventures, LLC, which had leaded the plane; and Spiniello Companies, the pilots’ employer.

Just days before his death, Katz, 72, had won co-ownership of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News, and Philly.com at an auction that pitted him against a group led by George Norcross, the New Jersey political power player. Katz’s death ultimately put control of the papers in the hands of Philadelphia philanthropist Gerry Lenfest, who earlier this year created a nonprofit foundation to take ownership of them.

Katz and fellow passengers had just attended a fundraiser at the home of Doris Kearns Goodwin the evening of the accident. The crash occurred when the plane failed to get airborne on liftoff, instead racing beyond the runway, then hitting a tower and other equipment before bursting into flames.

The National Transportation Safety Board in September said that there were multiple failures that led to the crash, which killed six other people besides Katz. The pilots failed to complete a pre-flight checklist that might’ve alerted them that the plane’s elevators were locked, making it impossible to take off; the NTSB also found the plane wasn’t designed with a system to “provide unmistakable warning” that the plane was in danger.

The defendants “caused the [crash] by their negligence and . . . by manufacturing and/or designing a defective product,” the lawsuit says. The plaintiffs in the suit are Katz’s two children, who are co-executors of his estate.

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