Neighbors of Birmingham airport sue UPS after deadly plane crash

A Birmingham television station captured video of the crash's fiery aftermath. (Source: WVTM-TV)
A Birmingham television station captured video of the crash's fiery aftermath. (Source: WVTM-TV)

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WAVE) – Four neighbors who live near an Alabama airport where a UPS plane crashed, killing two pilots, filed a lawsuit against UPS and the Birmingham Airport Authority.

Pilots Shanda Fanning and Cerea Beal Junior were killed when UPS Flight 1354 crashed in an open field near the Birmingham airport on August 14.

According to the lawsuit filed on October 8, 2013, Cornelius Benson, his wife Barbara Jean Benson, Christopher Whitfield and Pamela Yarber are suing UPS for negligence, trespass and tort of outrage and mental anguish in connection to the crash.

The lawsuit states the Bensons home shares a boundary with the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport and their home is the last house planes fly over before landing on runway 18 at the airport. Whitfield lives on a property next to the Bensons and his property also shares a property line with Yarber.

The lawsuit states as the plane was crashing it was "too low and took out the tops of several trees on Ms. Yarber's property," scattered debris across her yard and created a hole in the roof of her home. The Benson's claim the crash also scattered debris across their yard and on the roof of their truck causing dents. They claim several tree tops were damaged in addition to a walkway on their property.

The neighbors are suing UPS for negligence claiming UPS has a duty to take due care when operating its cargo planes and its duties were breached due to the crash.

UPS is being sued for trespass because "UPS caused its plane to enter (the) plaintiff's property without permission," as stated in the lawsuit, and tort of outrage and mental anguish because the plaintiff's now "live in constant fear every plane they hear may be the next one to crash into their houses."

The lawsuit states from 1986 to 2008 the Airport Authority performed runway and terminal expansions. The Airport Authority allegedly purchased several properties surrounding the plaintiff's during the expansions, but have refused to purchase the plaintiff's claiming no planes are routed over their homes.

The plaintiffs are suing the Airport Authority for inverse condemnation, negligence and nuisance.

Mike Mangeot, with UPS Airlines, issued the following statement regarding the lawsuit, "The accident was a tragic situation for UPS, our pilots and their loved ones and the Birmingham community. However, UPS does not discuss legal proceedings."

The cause of the crash remains under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board.

To view the full lawsuit, click here.

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