Alkan Air hangar in Whitehorse. Alkan Air has filed its response to a lawsuit over a 2019 plane crash that killed a Vancouver geologist on board, denying that there was any negligence on its part or the pilot’s. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Alkan Air hangar in Whitehorse. Alkan Air has filed its response to a lawsuit over a 2019 plane crash that killed a Vancouver geologist on board, denying that there was any negligence on its part or the pilot’s. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Alkan Air responds to lawsuit over 2019 crash denying negligence, liability

Airline filed statement of defence Oct. 7 to lawsuit by spouse of geologist killed in crash

Alkan Air has filed its response to a lawsuit over a 2019 plane crash that killed a Vancouver geologist on board, denying that there was any negligence on its part or the pilot’s.

The Yukon airline filed its statement of defence to the Yukon Supreme Court on Oct. 7, about two and a half months after Ryan Gandy, the spouse of geologist Julia Lane, filed his statement of claim.

Lane, 33, and Whitehorse pilot Shawn Thomas Kitchen, 24, both died on Aug. 6, 2019, after the Cessna 208B Grand Caravan they were flying in crashed into the side of a mountain near Mayo Lake. The pair had departed from the Rau Strip, within the Rackla Gold Project in central Yukon, late that morning and had been on its way to Mayo.

A Transportation Safety Board of Canada’s investigation found that Kitchen’s decision-making while flying in poor weather conditions that day was among the main contributors to the crash. There was low cloud cover at the time, the report on the investigation said, and Kitchen had flown into a box canyon likely believing he was following another route he had flown earlier that day.

The lawsuit alleges that both Kitchen and Alkan Air failed to live up to its duty of care to ensure that the plane was operated safely and is seeking damages for both Gandy and Lane’s parents.

However, in its statement of defence, Alkan Air “expressly denies that it or the pilot were in any way guilty of any omission, negligence, breach of duty or wrongful acts as alleged (in the lawsuit) or at all.”

The airline “carried on business as a commercial air operator in a diligent and prudent manner and provided all appropriate training, monitoring and direction to its pilots,” the statement of defence argues.

It also refutes the claim that Kitchen was negligent, describing him as “properly trained, qualified, certified and fit to fly” adding that “in all of the circumstances, he acted in a diligent and prudent manner, and in accordance with the applicable standard of care.”

Alkan Air is also denying its liability to Gandy and Lane’s parents, also arguing that the damages they’re claiming “are excessive and remote and therefore not recoverable at law.”

Alkan Air is asking for the lawsuit to be dismissed and for it to be awarded legal costs.

The case has not yet been heard in court.

Contact Jackie Hong at jackie.hong@yukon-news.com

Plane crashYukon courts

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