January Plane Crash Yields 2 Lawsuits Against Central Flying Service

A plane crash that killed four people in January has resulted in two lawsuits against the owner of the aircraft, Central Flying Service Inc. of Little Rock.

The estates of Dean L. Hart Sr. and Don Thompson, both of Louisiana, filed the lawsuits against the airline and alleged negligence. The estates are seeking unspecified damages in nearly identical complaints filed in Pulaski County Circuit Court.

The estates said that Central Flying’s pilot, Mason C. Mauldin of Little Rock, who was also killed in the Jan. 24 accident, “was reluctant to pilot” on that day “but was compelled to do so by his employer,” according to the lawsuits filed in October.

The lawsuits said Mauldin didn’t properly fly the 1998 fixed-wing single-engine Beechcraft on the trip from Texas to Louisiana.

“Mauldin was flying too high to make a safe landing attempt,” the lawsuits said. “Mauldin failed to maintain proper control of the Airplane and caused it to crash into the ground.”

The estates blame Central Flying for pressuring Mauldin to fly the plane when he didn’t want to. The estates also allege that the company “negligently represented” to the passengers that Mauldin was an appropriate pilot for the flight.

Also killed in the crash was Max Larche of Louisiana. Court records in Pulaski County don’t indicate that his estate has sued Central Flying Service.

The lawsuits didn’t say where the plaintiffs’ attorneys received the information for their complaints. The National Transportation Safety Board hasn’t issued a report on the accident. One of the plaintiffs’ attorneys, Grant Davis of Kansas, didn’t return a call for comment.

Dick Holbert, president of Central Flying Service, declined to comment on the allegations in the complaints.

“We’re deeply saddened by the tragedy and share the grief of all concerned, including the loss of one of our own,” Holbert said.

This was the company’s first fatal accident since it was founded in 1939.