News Column

Questions Remain in Jenni Rivera's Death

December 9, 2013

By Susan Abram, Daily News

Questions, lawsuits in the death of singer Jenni Rivera.
Questions, lawsuits in the death of singer Jenni Rivera.

The airplane crash that killed banda singer Jenni Rivera a year ago could have been the result of a series of factors, including the condition of the Learjet as well as the age and experience of the pilot and co-pilot, according to a preliminary report released by Mexican authorities this week.

Investigators were careful not to provide a definitive cause of the crash, saying that the wreckage in the mountainous terrain near Iturbide, Mexico was so extensive, it was difficult to determine a conclusion. They also ruled out severe weather as a cause. But officials with Mexico's General Civil Aviation Administration listed several other possibilities, including a sudden loss of control while the Learjet was ascending, due to a faulty horizontal stabilizer.

Also noted was the age of the craft itself, which was manufactured in 1969. It was owned by Starwood Management LLC at the time of Rivera's death. Investigators also noted that the pilot, 78-year-old Miguel Perez held a restricted license pertaining to the weight of the craft as well as where he could fly. His co-pilot, Alessandro Torres, 21, was not licensed to fly outside the United States.

Rivera was 43 years old when she and her staff of four died in the crash along with the two pilots. The Learjet nose-dived into a mountainside on Dec. 9, 2012, just after she had performed in a concert in Monterrey, in the state Nuevo Leon.

The report by Mexican authorities comes just a few days before memorials and TV specials have been planned on the one-year anniversary of her death.

But still pending are two lawsuits, both filed against Encino based- Jenni Rivera Enterprises and Starwood. The lawsuits were filed by the families of her four staff members who died at her side: Rivera's publicist, Arturo Rivera, her makeup artist, Jacob Yebale, her stylist, Jorge Sanchez, and her lawyer, Mario Macias. The families of the two pilots also filed a separate lawsuit against her company.

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge ruled last month that the case should be heard in Los Angeles, and not Mexico.

Anthony R. Lopez, a Beverly Hills attorney who represents Jenni Rivera Enterprises said he could not comment on any current legal actions surrounding the crash. Mark Velasquez an aviation attorney for Starwood also said he would have no comment on the pending litigation.

Paul Kiesel, who is representing the four families of Rivera's staff, said he is still in the discovery phase of the case, and that the remains of the Learjet have been brought to the United States for further investigation.

"It's been a struggle for each of the families," Kiesel said. "Each struggle in their own way. (Those who died) were people who were the breadwinners for their families. The families are continuing to heal but the anniversary opens up new wounds."

Original headline: Jenni Rivera's plane crash caused by several factors; lawsuits pending


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Source: (c)2013 the Daily News (Los Angeles) Distributed by MCT Information Services


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