Latin singer Jenni Rivera rehearses for the 2012 Billboard Latin Music Awards, from Miami, Florida at the BankUnited Center, University of Miami – April 25, 2012. (Photo/Getty Images)

Family of 78-year-old pilot sues Jenni Rivera and plane’s company

The family of the 78-year old pilot flying the plane carrying singer Jenni Rivera and members of her entourage has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Jenni Rivera’s company and the plane’s company in hopes of blaming the fatal crash on the condition of the plane.

Undated photo of Miguel Perez Soto. (Photo Courtesy by Perez Soto family)

Undated photo of Miguel Perez Soto.
(Photo Courtesy by Perez Soto family)

“Miguel was a beloved husband, father and doting grandfather. Despite his outstanding experience and skill, Miguel was given a bad piece of equipment to fly,” Antonio M. Romanucci, a partner at Illinois law firm Romanucci & Blandin, said in a statement to NBC Latino. Furthermore, Perez Soto was one of Mexico’s “most experienced pilots,” said Romanucci and “it is our contention that the Defendants knew that this jet was unsafe, unsuitably repaired and not properly maintained.”

RELATED: Jenni Rivera’s company sued by plane crash victims

Perez Soto was the head pilot of the LearJet 25 that nose-dived from 28,000 feet shortly after taking off following Rivera’s sold-out concert at the Monterrey Arena. The lawsuit filed by Perez Soto’s family names Starwood Management, LLC, McOCO, Inc., Rodatz Financial Group, Inc. and Learjet Corporation as defendants in addition to Jenni Rivera Enterprises and  Christian Esquino Núñez, listed as a corporate executive for Starwood.

According to the suit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, Starwood Management LLC and Esquino Núñez are named as defendants because they “should have known that the Learjet and/or its component parts had not been properly maintained, repaired, inspected, and/or otherwise controlled,” citing that the plane suffered substantial damages in Amarillo, Texas in 2005.

Rivera’s company has been sued for acting “in concert with the Defendants named herein for the use of the LearJet.”

Perez Soto has been a central figure in the plane crash that killed Jenni Rivera and five others.  A separate civil lawsuit previously filed in Los Angeles by relatives of four of the deceased victims states that Perez Soto did not have the instrument flight rule license needed to fly the plane at 35,000 feet and according to the filed suit, he was not licensed to fly “passengers for hire.”

However, with Romanucci’s help, Perez Soto’s family intends to disprove that the Mexican citizen suffered a heart attack or was incapacitated in some way, as Starwood’s Director of Operations Esquino Núñez suggested was a possibility in an interview on  “Al Rojo Vivo con Maria Celeste.”

Esquino did not respond to NBC Latino and Telemundo’s request for comment, stating via email that he and the Starwood team has been advised to refrain from issuing any statements until the case is heard in court.

RELATED: New Jenni Rivera biography reveals deeper look at the singer’s scandals, career and family

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