LOS ANGELES (CN) - Families of victims of the plane crash that killed Mexican singer Jenni Rivera sued four corporations - including Jenni Rivera Enterprises - claiming the 43-year-old Learjet had a history of maintenance and structural problems, and its 78-year-old pilot should not have been flying it.
The Learjet crashed in the mountains of Nuevo Leon state on Dec. 9, 2012, killing Rivera and six others.
Family members of four victims of the crash sued Starwood Management, Rodatz Financial Group, McOco Inc. and Jenni Rivera Enterprises, in Superior Court. They seek punitive damages for negligence.
The complaint states: "On December 9, 2012, a forty-three-year-old Learjet 25 fixed wing multi-engine aircraft, registered in the United States and bearing tail number N345MC, with a long history of maintenance problems and prior 'substantial' left wing and airframe structural damage [hereinafter referred to as the 'Learjet'] crashed in Mexico while carrying as paying passengers Jenni Rivera, Arturo Rivera, Jacobo Yebale, Mario Macias Pacheco and Jorge Armando Sanchez Vasquez. Plaintiffs' respective decedents, Arturo Rivera, Jacobo Yebale, Mario Macias Pacheco and Jorge Armando Sanchez Vasquez, died in the crash and by this action the plaintiffs seek damages for their respective wrongful death and assert survival actions on their respective decedents' behalf."
The Learjet was certified to fly on Dec. 9, 1969, 43 years to the day before it crashed, according to the complaint: "the Learjet was such an old airplane that it was referred to in the aviation community as a 'bucket of bolts.'"
It suffered structural damage while landing at Amarillo International Airport on July 1, 2005, the complaint states.
"The pilot of the Learjet at the time of the crash, Miguel Perez Soto, was 78 years of age and was licensed to fly that aircraft under a limited and temporary airman certificate issued October 27, 2010, which forbade operation of the Learjet on flights which carried any passenger for hire or on flights proceeding under Instrument Flight Rules conditions," the complaint states. "Nonetheless, at the time of the subject crash, the Learjet was carrying passengers for hire (Ms. Jenni Rivera and plaintiff's respective decedents) and was operating under Instrument Flight Rules conditions. Additionally, any pilot of the Learjet was required to hold a pilot certification with an unrestricted Learjet type rating (LR-JET) in order to conduct the subject flight, yet pilot Perez Soto did not hold such a type rating."
Neither did the co-pilot, Alejandro Jose Torres, according to the complaint.
The plane, flying at 600 mph at 35,000 feet, lost altitude and nose-dived into 9,000-foot-high mountains at 3:25 a.m., killing everyone on board, the complaint states.
The plaintiffs are represented by Paul Kiesel with Kiesel + Larson, of Beverly Hills.
Rivera, 43, was known for her banda, or Norteño music, a polka-influenced style that includes elements of many other Latin American music genres. Her tenth album, "Jenni," hit No. 1 on Billboard's Latin Music chart in 2008. She also founded and ran many ancillary businesses.