Lawsuit filed in death of Aurora man killed in Fla. plane crash - FOX 32 News Chicago

Lawsuit filed in death of Aurora man killed in Florida plane crash

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CHICAGO (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

A wrongful death lawsuit was filed Thursday in Cook County Circuit Court on behalf of the estate of Kim Presbrey, an Aurora attorney who died of medical complications following a 2012 single-engine plane crash in Florida.

According to court documents, Presbrey was piloting a Seawind 3000 aircraft when it suddenly and unexpectedly lost power shortly after takeoff and crashed into a Publix supermarket roof in DeLand, Fla., north of Orlando, in April 2012. Presbrey and the plane's one passenger suffered severe burns. Passenger Thomas Rhoades of Illlinois survived, but 60-year-old Presbrey died after a month in intensive care.

The Seawind 3000 is a composite, four-seat amphibian airplane with a single tail-mounted engine.

The lawsuit alleges that the plane was unsafe for flying, by virtue of any one or a combination of factors, including design flaws, use of extremely flammable and combustible materials and lack of safeguards to prevent passengers from becoming engulfed in flames. The suit also alleges the plane did not have sufficient warnings regarding the plane's susceptibility to a loss of power during takeoffs and assents.

The lawsuit filed Thursday names many companies as defendants: companies that designed and sold the Seawind 3000; companies which designed, built and sold the aircraft's engine, fuel injection system and fuel pump; companies which completed a major overhaul of the aircraft in 2001; and the party who performed the pre-purchase inspection and certified the plane as airworthy in January 2012, and performed maintenance and service on it between January and April 2012. Companies named as defendants in the suit are: SNA Inc.; Seawind, LLC; Advanced Aero Inc.; Sea Air Composites Inc.; J.M. Bowes Aviation; Planemakers Inc.; Lycoming; Avco Corperation; Textron Inc.; Zephyr Aircraft Engines Inc.; Precision Airmotive LLC; Avstar Aircraft Accessories; Avstar Fuel Systems Inc.; Mallory Ignition; Prestolite Performance; and Alan Shackleton.

Christopher Hurley, the lawyer representing Presbrey's wife, Colleen Presbrey, executor of the Presbrey estate, said Presbrey was an experienced, safe and prudent pilot at the controls of a bad airplane.

"No one would have been able to control it in the same situation," said Hurley, an attorney with Chicago-based law firm Hurley, McKenna & Mertz. "The fact is, that plane should have been grounded unless and until changes are made to address its loss of power issues."

Presbrey was managing partner of Aurora-based Presbrey & Associates, and practiced workers' compensation law since 1977. He also served as former president of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association and member of the Board of Governors of the Illinois State Bar Association.

Presbrey was survived by his wife, two sons and a brother.

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