Brazil: Lawyer Blames US Pilots for Showing Off and Wants to Hear NY Times Reporter

American lawyer Manuel von Ribbeck, one of the partners of  Ribbeck Law office, which is representing 40 relatives of victims killed in the collision between an executive Legacy jet belonging to New York based ExcelAire and a Boeing 737, told Brazilian reporters, on Thursday, November 9, that he has enough evidence to prove that the American pilots made risky maneuvers over the Amazon forest to show off.

Ribbeck also revealed that his law office has hired experts to probe what has happened during the flight that ended up causing Brazil’s worst accident ever, with 154 deaths. He brought with him a Canadian engineer expert in Boeing accidents, Max Vermij, who is in charge of coordinating the job of other specialists working for the law office.

Ribbeck mentioned that his information on pilots Joseph Lepore and Jan Paladin’s negligent behavior came from a top source in the Brazilian Air Force (FAB): "They were conducting such maneuvers," stated the American lawyer, "because the company ExcelAire was happy with the purchase of the jet and it wanted to show off the equipment to journalists and businessmen who were in the flight."

"Apparently the Legacy’s pilots were making maneuvers, playing over the Amazon in a negligent way and the government has confirmed this," he added.

For Ribbeck there are two main culprits in this Brazilian tragedy: the Legacy’s pilots and Honeywell, the American company that manufactured the TCAS (Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System). The system should have prevented the collision, but apparently malfunctioned.  

The equipment should have been able to detect an approaching plane, said Monica Kelly another American from the same law office: "Even if the transponder wasn’t working or had been turned off, the alarm should have sounded. The company should be held responsible for this failure."

On Monday, November 6, the Ribbeck Law office filed a criminal lawsuit in a New York court against Lepore and Paladino as well as Boeing, Honeywell, and ExcelAire Service.

According to Ribbeck, depending on how the investigations proceed, Brazilian companies and people in Brazil will also be sued, including Gol Airlines, Embraer (the Legacy’s manufacturer) and air traffic controllers on duty on September 29, when the accident occurred.

To make theirs a stronger case, the US lawyers say they will use the information contained in the black boxes of both planes and will also try to interview Joe Sharkey, the New York Times reporter, who was in the Legacy when the accident occurred.

Sharkey’s piece on the Times recounting his experience in the fateful flight was quite sympathetic to the American pilot’s cause and critical of Brazil’s authorities and skies management. His piece drew a barrage of criticism from Brazilian authorities and journalists who called him arrogant and misinformed.


  • Show Comments (16)

  • janio

    brazilian and American comparisons
    Brazil and USA
    south american geographically located in discovered in 1500 year
    inhabited by indians then the populated by others
    it was developed by the new world
    North America almost the same
    considering that it was Columbus that discovered the continents both nations reside.
    Points to consider
    Brazil has as much resources as if not much more then Great empire of USA
    yet brazil needs to develop public confidence and organisational clout that is already developed in the USA
    that is why brazil is rated as a developing country and not a developed country such as the USA
    yet remembering that corruption is present everywhere and is not going away soon.
    Corruption is present in developing and developed countries.
    the only diference is that in developin countries it is more behaved and tamed then in the developing countries
    i myseff have being victim of big time corruption by a developed country
    just consider the timerisol vaccine loaded with overdose mercury enough to cause mental damage to a child
    and even today scandal that hurted thousand if not million of babies born in the developing countries swept under the carpet paid by the lobiest pharmaceuticals unpunished.
    and courts records sealed that the families of these babies could not seek their lawful rights,
    i myself have a autism child that was quite normal before she received her dose of timerisol mercury over dose capable of even causing death in a baby.
    as for dose looking for perfection on both sides i suggest caution.
    you will see a higher incidence of autism in developed countries as oposed to developing countries.
    the proof is in the pudding.
    it would not be wise to compare a developed country with a developing country without first taking these factors into consideration.
    i have seen a lot of improvement and growth in my last 25 years from leaving outside brazil yet
    dont forget that every nation grows.

  • janio

    brazil,law and law practioners
    Not being a lawyer myself , i still indulge in taking a very common sense aproach as to law and lawyers state of mind
    why is it that the very people that are supposed to represent themselves and others many times happen to abuse their previledge.
    i have not seing or experienced more corrupt and unstable events in the countries i have happened to live
    but the alarming thing is that that my experience with brazilian lawyers is that the majority with a very alarming criteria ratio tend to abuse their previledge.
    i wonder if it is my experience that has somehow pricked me or if it is really that just a alarming reality?
    there was a case of a lawyer in brazil that misappropriated and commited crimes against their clients and went not punished and still have their licenses to operate and commit more crimes against the very people they are supposed to protect and represent under the court of law
    i pounder , is it me or am just a grain of sand in this alarming state of affairs.

  • janio

    brazilian law and brazilian lawyers
    A very true to life and not hypotetical fact.
    My mother was married to a white brazilian citizen name Caetano Melhor Pinto employed by brazilian navy and had four children, two girls e and one boy unfortunetely Caetano died 1951 since the the time of death of her lawful married husband, my mother has being a victim of racism by the brazilian navy and was forced to endure in hardship for her entire children because of this alarming brazilian racism discrimination and never got a dime from
    from the Brazilian Navy.
    It has being 56 years of suffering and still vibrant racism by a country that boast constitional right for every citizen
    I would like to know when such a developing promissing giant is going honour its true duties.
    this letter is written from a brazilian very concerned about the brazilian constitution.
    for veracity
    i would appreciate a appology from Mr Lula and the Brazilian Navy.
    on the behalf of my mother Olga Melhor Pinto .

  • andy murphy

    It is ridiculous to detain the American pilots,who are being persecuted by the AMBULANCE CHASERS.While I am really sorry that 154 people lost their lives,it appears that the Ambulance Chasers do not give a damn about those souls.Mr.Joe Sharkey should be interviewd by the Brazilian press to guarantee that there were no aerobatics that the american pilots were pratising.Gee,guys, no right thinking pilot would put the safety of his passengeres at risk ,by doing them.I hate to say it,but I think that the Brazilian Air Force officers are the only ones who are keeping their cool heads.They are not involving in witch hunts.Thank you for listening to me.

  • JC

    to ch .c (Mr. Idiot)
    As hard as it may be for you À¢€œch. cÀ¢€Â to verbalize what you mean, I think everyone here understands that the American layers will go after the EMPLOYERS and not the EMPLOYEES for the money.
    Your assumption in itself indicates the level of simplicity in witch you function.
    Remember, you have no credibility, no credentials, no purpose or cause and apparently you donÀ¢€™t have a job either. You are the proverbial quintessential RACIST LOOSERÀ¢€¦À¢€Âby definitionÀ¢€Â.

  • Rick

    No, the plane was already sold, they were just trying to get it home. The idea that they would go higher and call everyone up front to look at the GPS groundspeed makes no sense. There is a factor called Coffin Corner where the plane is so high that there is no safe margin between the cruising speed and the stalling speed. There was recently a case in the AOPA magazine about two pilots with no passengers in a similar plane, new and hot, that crashed because they were screwing around trying out the climb performance, overdid it, stalled the turbines and fried one of them, crashed and burned. Nothing in that case bears any similarity.

  • Guest

    Snap rolls? No, not aerobic meneuvers Top Gun type I was thinking simply in flying faster by a higher altitude. It was said a plane travels fasters when in higher altitude.

  • Rick

    The Legacy is basically a bus, not a Pitts Special. One demonstrates its capabilities by standard takeoffs, performance in climb as per the book, comfort and speed in cruise, ability to come down quickly in comfort, and the effectiveness of the pressurization and air conditioning. Issues like the lavatory and do tall people have to hunch over to walk around. I doubt if there has been an airliner purposely rolled since the 707, and that was in the test flight phase. Those who continue to spout this nonsense about “risky maneuvers”, what do you think they were doing, steep turns and snap rolls?

  • Guest

    what exactly do they mean
    Ribbeck mentioned that his information on pilots Joseph Lepore and Jan Paladin’s negligent behavior came from a top source in the Brazilian Air Force (FAB): “They were conducting such maneuvers,” stated the American lawyer, “because the company ExcelAire was happy with the purchase of the jet and it wanted to show off the equipment to journalists and businessmen who were in the flight.”

    What do you think maybe they were testing the plane? I found this at excelaire werbsite

    The Right Crew
    Being ready to demonstrate the aircraft for sale at the buyerˢ۪s convenience can be key to making a sale. With a highly trained staff of pilots and crew on call 24 hours/7 days a week, ExcelAire can provide you with the right crew whenever you need to showcase your aircraft. And if youˢ۪re acquiring a new aircraft, we can assist in hiring pilots with the training and experience necessary to fly you and your guests in safety and comfort

    Chartering a jet from ExcelAire is quick and easy. By calling 800-77-EXCEL anytime 24 hours a day/7 days a week, you can book a flight to almost anywhere in the world on just a few hours notice. Just tell us where youˢ۪re going, when you wish to depart and how many people are traveling and we will match your party to the jet that fits your needs

    Heavy business interests always win? Our rivers are polluted (brazil), our bodies and even our minds.

  • ch.c.

    To JC again !
    Why dont you read 2 articles in the News side of today in this site :
    – After 24 Years of Wait for Court Decision, Brazilian Indians Invade Land !
    – 19 Years Later, Brazilian Jury Acquits Defendant on Missionary Death !

    And this is by far not unusual but quite regular in Brazil !
    Not a month without several articles such as these !

    Just read my previous post concerning the corrupted Brazilian politicians….absolved by the others corrupted politicians in the Senate and with a secret vote….so that no one could accuse anyone of having voted to have absolved ……those found guilty by the investigators !

    Is this Justice…or ONLY the Brazilian IN/Justice ????

    Every Brazilian involved in Judiciary is either a crook, or stupid, or most probably

    The Brazilian Constitution is just written on toilet paper, and University and Laws diplomas are also available in some specialized shops….against payment of cash !

    This is why you have such a mess at every level of your society.

    NOTHING WORKS SMOOTHLY……EXCEPT CRIMES, VIOLENCE, INJUSTICE, IMPUNITY AND CORRUPTIONS ! 5 areas for which you truly shine when rated and ranked with the others world countries !!!!

    You are so UNdeveloped that you can only export your citizens, grains, meats, cattles, chicken, coffee, orange juice, sugar and ethanol, and iron ore ! Or simply stated…. All basic commodities ONLY ! Be proud….of such a state of devedopment !
    Even your cars are not with Brazilian but Foreign Technology and Foreign manufacturers who have invested in your country !!!
    But of course you even criticize them….despite they created hundreds of thousands
    of direct and indirect jobs. And these jobs are much better paid than if it was a Brazilian company !!!!!

    Brazil is really a Tropical Mud, and you confirm and reconfirm it by the day !

  • Rick

    Not only right on the altitude, but right on the center of the airway. They will get busted for doing a superb job on their checkride.

  • I Love Brazil

    Here Come the Lawyers.
    Common people. These lawyers see cash. They have nothing and will have egg on thier faces. They will not be able to sue the Brazilian Military, they will not be able to sue the Pilots. They will not be able to sue ExcelAire, Boeing….. maybe Honeywell Common. I thought the histeria was dying down here. If these pilots were doing manuvers in the airspace over the Amazon, then how was it that they were at exactly 37,000 feet at the moment of impact? If they were doing manuvers, they probably wouldn’t have hit the Gol airliner in the first place.

  • ch.c.

    of course JC ! Here I am !
    Why Brazilians always treat someone disagreing with them as racists ?
    When I disagree with you, I never treated any Brazilian as racist ! It just confirm that your arguments are empty ! Do you have also the “inferiority complex” of so many millions of Brazilians ??????

    The accusations of lawyers, US or Brazilians, doesnt make anyone guilty or not ! Lawyers will bring their cases and arguments. This is what they ARE PAID FOR !

    But a Defense Minister or the Minister of Foreign Relations ARE NOT PAID to make accusations…..before an investigation is over ! For this plane crash, has a Brazilian already read a comment accusing the Brazilians ATC coming from a U.S. Government Official ? Not to my knowledge !

    Furthermore, and I am not surprised coming from you, but you are not very smart !
    The US lawyers are not expecting millions of US$ dollars from the US pilots, simply because they dont have personally these millions.
    If smart you were, you should realize and know that American Lawyers, when they sue someone for millions or tens of millions or hundreds of millions of dollars, they sue the COMPANIES AND NOT THE INDIVIDUALS simply because it is them who have the cash and the big insurances coverages and NOT THE EMPLOYEES…..who eventually committed an error !!!!

    Finally JC you should re-read the article, because it also said : ” depending on how the investigations proceed, Brazilian companies and people in Brazil will also be sued, including Gol Airlines, Embraer (the Legacy’s manufacturer) and air traffic controllers on duty on September 29, when the accident occurred.

    And you also dont know what the real strategy of the US lawyers are ! I dont know it myself either of course but I could also suppose that they sue first the US side and as said, eventually, depending of how the investigationSSSSS go, they will change and initiate their lawsuits against GOL, the ATCs and Embraer !

    Because I easily could see a case where GOL and Embraer could be sued, eventually, for having installed a non fonctionning TCAS and eventually they did not perform sufficient tests before delivering the plane to the US pilots !

    As you can see, from my side, and contrary to you and your assholes Ministers I dont accuse openly and freely someone.
    Why do the heck your Ministers have HIDDEN for so long that the ATCs commited an error, while they knew it from day 2 or 4 after the accident ??????
    Why was this revealed by the Brazilian press….FIRST….and not from your investigators or government officials ?
    Why did they hide this important “detail” while they openly accused the US pilots continuously ?
    What else do they know and have not revealed yet ?

    In 99 % of the time, the one who hide facts….HAS A REASON !!!!

    SAME FOR YOUR SO MANY CORRUPTIONS SCANDALS, 99 % were revealed by the press, with facts ! And what happened ? The investigators did their job, found tens and tens of your politicians guilty, but these politicians were almost all absolved
    by their politicians peers….in a secret vote….at the Brazilian Senate !

    So disgusting even for your investigators that most RESIGNED !!!!!!

    What a shame, what a shame !

    Why should anyone trust the Brazilian Justice and the Brazilians government which anyway hide the Brazilians investigators report….as long as they can ?

  • JC

    I am anxiously waiting to the comments of CH.C concerning this issue… THAT PROOVES THAT YOU ARE AN IMPECABLE RACIST HUMAN REJECT.
    By the way CH.C I wrote this article below one day earlier than this article was published. Now I demand from you the same outrage fury you have against all Brazilians!!!

    written by jc, 2006-11-09 21:49:21
    So here is a question for all of you especially for À¢€œ ch c.À¢€Â What will happen when the American hungry lawyers dissect the American pilots inside the US courts to find ” beyond the reasonable doubt” that the American pilots are guilty of negligence or wrongful death, to the value of millions of dollars??? Hugh??? Would that make it OK then because it would be American layers in American court against American pilots??? Because YOU KNOW this is exactly what is going to happen!!! To be perfectly honest, I think Brazil handle this incident quite well. Media circus is unavoidable and everywhere in the world…information leaks is part of the process and the absence of extradition treaty exacerbated the situation. To the commentator that said that there is extradition agreement between US and Brazil I would suggest to read as a reference the case of the 5 brave fireman that died after an arsonist set his own building on fire and called the fire department to come and get him out. The story made the national news in the US when it was found that he was legally instructed to escape to Brazil because of the lack of extradition agreement between the two countries, but fortunately stopped at the airport.

  • Costinha

    Ambulance Chasers…
    Lawyers in any society are (…..o…..) buttholes and bottom dwellers in any society.

  • James

    Ambulance Chasers
    I dont know about Brasil, but America is the most litigious society in the world. This has created
    a sub culture of sleazy, over zealous ambulance chaser that will drag you into court at the drop of the hat.

    Easier to sue an American corporation than a brasilian government run agency.

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