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Fri, Jul 01, 2022

Lawsuit Filed Following RED Air Miami Incident

Four Passengers Allege Physical, Psychological Trauma

Four passengers are suing discount Dominican carrier RED Air after an incident that saw the nose-landing-gear of one of the carrier’s MD-82 aircraft collapse upon landing at Miami International Airport.

The passengers—Tamar Kalach, Sarkis Okhdjian, and cousins Anabella Perez and Camila Destefano—allege the incident caused them fractured bones, orthopedic injuries, spine damage, and psychological injuries.

The lawsuit was filed more than a week after RED Air Flight L5-203–a 32-year-old MD-82 formerly operated by American Airlines—veered sharply after touching down on MIA’s Runway 09, departed the touchdown-zone, and proceeded onto a grassy area where it struck several objects before coming to a halt and catching fire. No fatalities were reported, but three of the aircraft’s 126 passengers were transported to local hospitals.

The lawsuit alleges that the aircraft’s service and maintenance logs contain references to “several prior incidents” involving the landing-gear “breaking, cracking, not extending, structurally failing, or not functioning properly.”

Attorney Kent Burlington said in an email: “We have seen first-hand the severity of their injuries and trauma. We believe this was a preventable incident for which RED Air needs to be held accountable.” Burlington added: “The hard, violent landing, and landing-gear failure should not have occurred on this commercial flight.”

The complaint further alleges that the RED Air flight-crew, “failed to take actions to evacuate passengers in a timely and safe manner, and chaos broke out as the terrified passengers rushed to free themselves through an exit door.”

In a statement to a Miami News Service, Perez, 15, claimed she blacked out while trying to exit the damaged aircraft via its emergency slide, then regained consciousness—after an unspecified interval—on the grass adjacent the runway. She says she believed the plane was going to explode.

“I was just dragging myself with my hands,” Perez asserted, “trying to drag myself through the grass, just trying to get away from the plane, because I was like, a few feet away from it since I fell from it.”

Perez suffered a fractured tibia, a torn ACL, and a damaged meniscus.

Whether or not RED Air has retained attorneys remains unknown. In a post-incident statement, RED Air conceded that the plane “had technical difficulties after landing” but provided no additional details.

“At RED Air we express our absolute solidarity with the passengers and crew of the aircraft,” the carrier’s statement said.

Subsequent the 21 June incident, a RED Air mechanic—now likely a former mechanic—told the Miami Herald he suspected the failure of the nose-landing-gear was attributable to pilot error, claiming the system had been properly maintained.

Red Air is Venezuelan-owned by the Alvarez family (owners of Laser Airlines) and Dominican partners. The carrier commenced operations in November 2021 and operates exclusively between Las Americas International Airport in Santo Domingo and Miami International.

FMI: https://redair.com.do

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