LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The husband of Jenni Rivera, the singer who died in a 2012 plane crash in Mexico, filed a wrongful death lawsuit Friday against the owners of the plane.
Former Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Esteban Loaiza filed the case in Los Angeles Superior Court against Starwood Management LLC and its parent company, Rodatz Financial Group. The two companies jointly owned the 43-year-old Learjet LJ25 that crashed at about 3:30 a.m. on Dec. 9, 2012, 15 minutes after leaving Monterrey, Mexico, according to the lawsuit.
The singer filed for divorce from Loaiza, now 42, in Los Angeles Superior Court in October 2012. The divorce is still listed in the court website as “pending.” However, the suit states that Loaiza “received and was continuing to receive material support and other valuable financial benefits from Jenni Rivera.”
Rivera, 43, who was on board the plane with six other people, had just performed in Monterrey and was on her way to Mexico City to appear on the Mexican version of “The Voice.” She dominated the banda style of regional Mexican music popular in California and northwestern Mexico. She was one of the biggest stars on Mexico television and was popular on “regional Mexican” stations in California.
Officials with Las Vegas-based Starwood previously said the plane was properly maintained. Company executive Christian Esquino Nunez contended that Rivera was in the final stages of purchasing the airplane and the fatal flight was intended as a “demo.”
According to the complaint, the pilot – 78-year-old Miguel Perez Soto – only allowed him to be a co-pilot and was not qualified to fly aircraft with the amount of takeoff weight the Learjet carried during the fatal flight. Both Soto and his 20-year-old co-pilot, Alejandro Torres, were not licensed to fly on plains that carried passengers for hire, according to the lawsuit.
Soto and Torres were among those killed in the crash.
The jet had a history that included a prior accident in July 2005 in which it sustained structural damage to the left wing and airframe, according to the lawsuit.
The plane was believed to have been flying somewhere between 28,000 and 35,000 feet just prior to beginning a nearly five-mile nosedive.
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