By Innocent Anaba
The family of former Ondo State Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, the late Deji Falae, has asked a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos to hold that Associated Aviation Nigeria Ltd and the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, were responsible for his death in an air crash through negligence. Deji was the son of former Secretary to Government of the Federation, Chief Olu Falae.
The deceased was serving as commissioner in his Ondo State and a passenger on board Flight 361 that crashed on October 3, 2013 while conveying the remains of former Ondo State governor, Olusegun Agagu, for the funeral.
The late Falae’s wife, Ese and her three teenage children are claiming damages from the defendants for alleged negligence.
They are claiming $100,000 as general damages and N219,906, 250 which the deceased would have earned in 15 years as a lawyer had he not died.
The plaintiffs are seeking in the alternative, N108,527,750, £160,740 and $19,000 as special damages for alleged breaches of the defendants’ respective duties under the Civil Aviation Act 2006, Fatal Accident Act 1846 and Fatal Accident Law of Lagos State.
They are also praying the court to award N5 million as cost of filing the suit and legal fees, and 10 per cent interest on the post-judgment sum.
Meanwhile, the defendants have prayed the court to dismiss the suit, with NCAA contending that the aircraft was airworthy as at the time of the crash and had a valid certificate of air worthiness.
The family is contending that Associated Aviation, which operated the chartered aircraft, breached Section 74 of the Civil Aviation Act 2006 by failing to procure a legally binding insurance policy covering its liabilities, including compensation for damages that may be sustained by third parties.
It also wants the court to hold that the company breached statutory duties imposed by Section 55 of the Act when its aircraft at about 9.32 a.m., a minute after take-off, crash just outside the aerodrome and caused the deceased’s death.
According to the family, “The first defendant flew its Flight 361 in such as manner as to cause danger to the occupiers of the aircraft and indeed cause the death of the deceased.
“The only inference that can be drawn from the circumstances of this incident is that the first defendant was negligent or lax in carrying out its duties to the occupiers of the flight.”
The plaintiff said the NCAA also failed in its duties to ensure that the aircraft was safe to fly.