January 21 2006 - SEAPLANE PILOT'S DAD SUES CHALK'S FOR $100 MILLION
Family members of the pilot killed in the Dec. 19 crash of a Chalk's Ocean Airways seaplane filed a $100 million lawsuit against the historic airline. The suit, filed in Miami-Dade County last week, is the second against the Broward-based airline since it plunged off South Beach, killing all 20onboard, including pilot Michele Marks of Boynton Beach. The suit, filed by Marks' father on behalf of her estate, cities a preliminary National Transportation Safety Board report that speculates a fatigue crack on the 58-year-old seaplane caused the crash. The lawsuit argues the plane was too old to be flying and the company was at fault for not keeping up the maintenance or retiring the plane. Roger Nair, Chalk's general manager, could not be reached for comment Friday, despite messages left at his office and cell phone. Earlier this month, relatives of a mother and infant daughter killed in the crash filed a similar lawsuit in Miami-Dade County, asking a judge to make sure all the victims' families get their share of the company's insurance money. Twelve of those on board lived in Bimini, Bahamas, and were returning after holiday shopping. Marks' co-pilot, Paul Desanctis, of Pennsylvania, was also killed. Mark Marks, her husband, said he had not heard about the family's lawsuit. Although he has hired an attorney, Marks said he was still too distraught to think about a lawsuit. "My wife was killed four weeks ago," he said, from his Boynton Beach home. "I am still in a different place right now. I am still waiting to see what the NTSB says, and so far nothing says my wife caused that crash." In addition to the airline, the lawsuit names Chalk's owner James Confalone and an aircraft parts supplier based in Largo.