Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Nevada Airline Seeks New Representation in Rivera Plane Crash Lawsuit

A court hearing in the lawsuit filed by the family of popular Mexican regional singer Jenni Rivera took an interesting turn today.

A Los Angeles judge dismissed Starwood Management’s defense lawyer from the case after he claimed a dispute over fees and a breakdown in communication.

Rivera’s family filed suit against the Las Vegas-based company for its role in the plane crash that killed Rivera and four members of her entourage.

KPFK Reporter Shawn Raymundo has more on the case.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Holly Kendig approved attorney Mark Velasquez’s request to be removed from a lawsuit against Starwood Management, an airline company he represented.

He was defending Starwood in a lawsuit filed last January by the families of four victims in a December, 2012 plane crash that took the lives of seven people. Famed Mexican-American singer Jenni Rivera was among those who died in the Monterey, Mexico crash.

Valasquez says he wanted to be removed from the case because of a dispute over fees and breakdown in communication.

Attorney Paul Kiesel, who represents the victims’ families, says the Nevada based airline has until the trial setting conference on March 10 to find new representation otherwise the judge will hand down a default verdict against the company.

Starwood was chartered to fly the singer, along with her lawyer, publicist, makeup artist and hair stylist to Mexico City for a television appearance. The plane was piloted by 78-year-old Miguel PĂ©rez Soto and 21-year-old Alejandro Torres.

Kiesel says a preliminary report by Mexico’s General Directorate of Civil Aeronautics, released in December, revealed that the two pilots were not authorized to operate a plane with passengers.

Although the victims’ relatives also filed a lawsuit against Rivera’s entertainment company, Jenni Rivera Enterprises, Kiesel says it is still unclear who hired the airline to fly Rivera and her entourage.

Starwood Management was unavailable for comment.

The 43-year-old singer was well known in the Latino community as La Diva de la Banda. She was in the middle of taping a reality show which she hoped would help her crossover into mainstream American audiences.