Couple sues Central Airlines one week after plane crashed into home near Midway; lawyer says incident caused "severe emotional distress"

By Bethany Krajelis | Nov 25, 2014

The owners of a home on the city's Southwest Side that was hit by an airplane last week have sued the airlines that owned the small cargo plane.

Roberta and Raymond Rolinskas filed a lawsuit Tuesday against Central Airlines Inc. over the Nov. 18 incident that was fatal for the pilot of the plane, which crashed into the couple's home on South Knox Avenue shortly after taking off from Midway Airport.

Filed in Cook County Circuit Court, the suit accuses Central Airlines of failing to execute proper take off and landing, maintain sufficient altitude, adequately monitor altitude and airspeed, and properly maintain, inspect and control the plane.

As a result of the airlines' alleged negligence, the Rolinskas contend they "suffered injuries of a personal and pecuniary nature" and incurred damage to their home.

The four-count suit does not elaborate on what injuries the elderly couple suffered in the incident that occurred while they were sleeping. Several media reports published after the crash said the couple was not injured and the plane's pilot, Eric Quentin Howlett, died.

The couple is being represented by Thomas A. Demetrio and Matthew T. Jenkins of Corboy & Demetrio P.C. in Chicago.

The law firm, in a statement on its website about the filing of the suit, said the plane ... tore through the side of the couple’s brick home, ripping open a huge hole in their living room and then blasting through the living room wall, ripping a huge hole into their bedroom and crushing everything in its path.  The plane miraculously stopped just a couple of feet from the couple."

“While thankfully Roberta and Raymond did not suffer any physical harm, the emotional trauma has been devastating to them,” Jenkins said in the statement. “Hearing, seeing and feeling an airplane crashing just inches away from them has caused severe emotional distress."

The firm said it has" obtained a protective order to preserve the plane; radar reports, voice recordings and other evidence relating to communications between Air Traffic Control and the pilot; and general maintenance records."

The suit does not say how much money the Rolinskas want awarded in damages, but Jenkins said in an affidavit filed with the complaint that the couple is seeking more than $50,000, exclusive of interest and costs.

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