A 76-year-old Fountain Valley man injured during an accident while trying to land his small plane at the Catalina Airport in 2018 has settled his premises liability lawsuit against the Santa Catalina Island Conservancy.
Attorneys for plaintiff Edward Martell filed court papers on Monday with Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Kerry Bensinger notifying him of the accord. No terms were divulged.
The case had been awaiting a retrial because on April 5, Judge Frederick C. Shaller, who presided over the first trial, declared a mistrial when juror illnesses reduced it to 10 and the attorneys disagreed regarding whether they should proceed with that many panel members.
According to the suit, Martell was injured while trying to land his 1979 Piper PA-32 300 Cherokee aircraft in 2018 at the Catalina Airport when the plane went over a hillside on July 25, 2018. Martell alleged the runway was in poor condition, but the conservancy maintained he was injured by his own negligence.
“Despite having experience with multiple previous landings at the airport, plaintiff inexplicably gave himself very little room to land and thereafter did not fully apply the brakes on the aircraft,” according to the conservancy attorneys’ court papers, which further state that Martell admitted that he intentionally landed far down the runway due to his concerns with the condition of the runway asphalt.
Martell obtained his pilot’s license in 1997 and had logged about 2,100 flight hours by the time of the accident. He kept his aircraft at the Fullerton Airport, which has a runway length similar to that of the Catalina Airport.
Martell had landed at the Catalina Airport four to five times previously and encountered “lots of patches,” but never before felt the poor condition of the runway affected his ability to safely land and control his aircraft, according to the complaint.
However, other pilots had told Martell that the runway conditions had worsened since his last visit to the island, the suit stated.
“It became evident to Mr. Martell that he was not going to be able to safely stop his plane without endangering his passengers and damaging his aircraft,” the suit states.
So, Martell went to full power, pulled back on the stick and tried to take off, but the worsening conditions near the end of the runway affected his ability to control his aircraft and his plane went off the end of the runway and crashed 600 feet down the mountain, according to the suit.