The website for Green Assets listed Hunter Parks, one of the people who died in the crash, as its founder and chairman. His family is not among those who sued. A company spokesman released a statement that said it could not comment on the suit.
“There is not a day that goes by that we do not feel the sadness of this tragedy,” the statement said. “Our hearts remain with all families and friends who have been impacted by this incident. And because this is active litigation and that the facts of the incident are still unknown, we are unable to comment on the specifics of the complaint at this time.”
Email and phone messages seeking comment from Dillon’s Aviation and EDP Management Group were not immediately returned.
In late February, the National Transportation Safety Board said in a preliminary accident report that the pilot had made no distress calls and no declarations of an emergency.
The airplane had reached 4,700 feet (1,430 meters) and was climbing quickly, the NTSB’s report stated. There was no response to calls from an air traffic controller, and radar contact was lost.
A final report from the NTSB has not been issued.
Andrew Robb, a Kansas City-based aviation attorney who filed the lawsuit on behalf of the four families, said by phone that the plane’s lack of distress calls and climbing altitude were hallmarks of a pilot becoming spatially disoriented.
“If there was a problem with the mechanics or the electronics or something on that airplane that caused this 3,000-foot ascent, you would think that the pilot would have made some kind of communication,” Robb said.
The lawsuit was filed by the families of passengers Noah Styron, 15; Michael Shepherd, 15; Jacob Taylor, 16; and Stephanie Fulcher, 42.
Others who were onboard included Parks, 45, and Jonathan Kole McInnis, 15.
Rawls and his son lived in Greenville, authorities said in February. Fulcher, Parks and the four teens lived in Carteret County. The mostly rural county is home to older fishing villages as well as touristy areas that include Emerald Isle and Cape Lookout National Seashore.
The four teenagers went to East Carteret High School, which has about 600 students.
Charlie Snow, a close friend of the pilot, told The Associated Press in February that Rawls had previously flown for Snow’s company, Outer Banks Airlines, and was highly trained and extremely capable.
“If anybody could get out of something, if it was possible to get out of it, he could have done it,” Snow said.