Last Update: Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Defendant’s Attorney In Rivera Suit Withdraws From Case PDF Print E-mail
Written by San Fernando Valley Sun   
Thursday, 06 February 2014 17:14

LOS ANGELES (CNS) — The attorney representing the owners of the aircraft in which singer Jenni Rivera and six members of her entourage were killed has been allowed to leave the case. But another lawyer in the proceedings said he expects the lawsuit to remain on track. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Holly Kendig said Mark Velasquez, an attorney for Starwood Management LLC, had shown sufficient grounds for his request to withdraw from the case.

Velasquez stated in his court papers that a dispute had arisen between him and the company concerning his fees. Killed in the crash alongside Rivera were her publicist, Arturo Rivera; makeup artist Jacobo Yebale; hairstylist Jorge Armando Sanchez Vasquez; and Mario Macias Pacheco, her attorney.

Their relatives filed suit in January 2013, seeking economic damages for wrongful death and loss of support and punitive damages. Lawyers Paul Kiesel, who represents the plaintiffs, said Velasquez told the judge that Starwood Management has in-house counsel who may be available to take over from him.

“I don't expect any disruption in the flow of the case,” Kiesel said. Meanwhile, attorneys for Rivera’s heirs filed court papers with Kendig on Jan. 31 stating that they are awaiting information concerning the crash before deciding whether to join the current case. “Plaintiffs’ counsel has been conducting an investigation to determine the appropriate parties involved in the ownership, lease, management, maintenance, service, repair, control, entrustment and operation of the Learjet ... involved in the crash,” attorney Kevin Boyle wrote.

“For that reason, plaintiffs cannot join the ongoing litigation at this time as suggested by the court.” Rivera and her entourage, along with two pilots, were killed Dec. 9, 2012, when the plane crashed in the mountains of northern Mexico. The Learjet LJ25 crashed about 3:30 a.m., 15 minutes after leaving Monterrey, Mexico. Rivera had just performed in Monterrey and was on her way to Mexico City to appear on the Mexican version of “The Voice.”

Attorneys for the plaintiffs maintain Starwood Management poorly maintained the aircraft. They suggested that the left wing of the plane suffered serious damage in a 2005 ground accident and may have contributed to the crash. 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.

Officials with Las Vegasbased Starwood have insisted the plane was properly maintained. Company executive Christian Esquino Nunez has contended that Rivera was in the final stages of purchasing the airplane, and the fatal flight was intended as a “demo.” Rivera, 43, 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.