Jenni Rivera's plane crash is going to court. Families of the entourage killed during the accident along with the singer and two flight crew members file lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court, naming her company Rivera Enterprise, the jet's current owners Starwood Management and Rodatz Financial Group, and previous owner McOco Inc.
Relatives of Rivera's publicist Arturo Rivera, makeup artist Jacobo Yebale, hairstylist Jorge Armando Sanchez Vasquez and attorney Mario Macias Pacheco claim the 43-year-old aircraft was not well maintained. They also believe the 78-year-old pilot and the 20-year-old copilot were not properly licensed to fly the plane.
"We cast a wide net to find out exactly who is responsible and it may be that they're not. We have named Rivera Enterprises, who likely arranged the charter of this plane, in hindsight a very bad decision," lawyer Paul Kiesel said as quoted by E! News. "Neither pilot was licensed to operate this aircraft at the time and altitude it was flying."
They are seeking economic damages for loss of support, benefits, funeral costs as well as noneconomic damages for "loss of love, companionship, comfort...protection, affection, moral support." They are also seeking punitive damages from the current and previous owners of the aircraft, but not from the Rivera company. They additionally leave Rivera's personal estate out of the lawsuit.
Almost at the same time, rumors were circulating around the web that Rivera may have had ties to a powerful drug ring. An unnamed lawyer, whose job reportedly included securing musical talents for the Beltran Leyva cartel, claimed the singer performed and took cocaine at parties.
The allegations made by the attorney dated from 2009 when Rivera was detained at an airport in Mexico City for carrying more than $50,000 in cash, about $30,000 more than she claimed to officials. In the same year, her second husband Juan Lopez was jailed for selling drugs.
Rivera once addressed the drug rumor, saying, "Yes, it is true that at times you are not aware of who contracts you [for a show]." She added, "They tell you that you will sing at a certain place and that they will pay you a certain amount of money."
Rivera died in a tragic accident on early Sunday, December 9. Her plane, Learjet 25, lost contact with air traffic controllers about 10 minutes after taking off or approximately 60 miles away from Monterrey. The plane crashed nose-first from 28,000 feet upward in 30 seconds, causing it badly-destroyed.
The aircraft owners are under investigation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Christian E. Esquino Nunez from Starwood Management insisted maintenance and safety issues had nothing to do with the accident. He suggested pilot Miguel Perez Soto may have suffered a heart attack or was incapacitated in some other way and the co-pilot was unable to save the plane.
Two of the planes owned by the company were seized earlier this year as part of the ongoing probe.