Lawsuit filed in fatal Mt. Pleasant training flight crash

Published: Jan. 29, 2015 at 3:09 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 29, 2015 at 3:10 PM EST
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(L-to-R): Matthew Gaither, Graham Borland (Photo Source: Facebook)
(L-to-R): Matthew Gaither, Graham Borland (Photo Source: Facebook)

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The parents of a 20-year-old Johns Island man who died last year in a plane crash during a flight lesson in Mt. Pleasant have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the training school.

Cole and Anita Gaither, representing the estate of Matthew Cole Gaither,  filed the lawsuit against Coastal Aviation, Inc. and William G. Pearson on January 26.

According to an investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), a single-engine Cessna 150 crashed during a training flight into a marsh about 200 yards from the Mt. Pleasant Regional Airport on August 14, killing Matthew Gaither and his flight instructor, 33-year-old Graham Borland of North Charleston.

The suit states Cole and Matthew Gaither contacted Pearson, owner of Coastal Aviation, Inc., to arrange flight instruction for Matthew. Pearson set Matthew up with Borland, who was allegedly portrayed as a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Certified Flight Instructor.

According to FAA Records examined during NTSB's investigation into the accident, Borland held a commercial pilot certificate, but did not have a flight instructor certificate from the FAA.  

The suit alleges that because Borland was portrayed as an FAA Certified Flight Instructor, Coastal Aviation, Inc. was hired to provide Matthew Gaither with flight lessons.

On the day of the flight lesson, Borland was in control of the airplane when he took off with the flaps fully extended, causing the airplane to stall and crash, the lawsuit states.

The suit claims Gaither "would not have participated in flight instruction from Borland had Coastal Aviation, Inc. and Pearson not misrepresented Borland as a FAA certified flight instructor."

"The Estate of Matthew Gaither suffered injury or loss as a consequence of relying upon the misrepresentation," the suit states.

The parents of Matthew Gaither have requested a jury trial in the case, and are seeking actual and punitive damages due to "pecuniary loss, mental shock and suffering, wounded feelings, grief, sorrow and loss of society and companionship."

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