Passengers of Toronto Flight That Crashed in Guyana in 2018 Settle Class Action Lawsuit

Passengers aboard a flight to Toronto that crashed in Guyana in 2019 have agreed to a $5 million settlement after filing a class-action lawsuit against the airline and the plane’s manufacturer.

Last month, the parties reached a $5.55 million settlement that will be awarded to 84 class members, made up of passengers and their families. The settlement sum still needs to be approved before it can be disbursed to members. The approval hearing is scheduled for today in Toronto Superior Court. If the amount is approved, individual class members can expect to receive between $8,000 and $225,000 each, depending on the severity of the damage they suffered.

Fly Jamaica flight OJ256 crashed on November 9, 2018 with 120 passengers and eight crew members on board.

Bound for Toronto from Timehri, Guyana, it took off shortly after 1am. Those on board say it left about 40 minutes late after the crew identified a problem with the plane’s main door.

About 20 minutes into the flight, court documents say the pilot informed passengers that the plane was returning to Guyana due to a “hydraulic problem.” According to a sworn statement from a passenger, they were not told “anything further” about the issue and they were not informed of any type of emergency.

While attempting to land at Timehri airport, “the aircraft skidded violently past the end of the runway, through a perimeter fence and onto a sandy shoulder, tearing off the right main landing gear and the right engine.” the affidavit says.

“The passenger cabin was left in darkness and the roof panels came loose and fell on several passengers along with other debris, injuring them,” the document reads.

Fly Jamaica Boeing 757-200 flight crashes

Passengers, many of whom were crying and screaming, reported a “chaotic” evacuation of the plane, which by that time had begun to fill with dark smoke, according to the lawsuit.

Many of the 120 people on board suffered injuries and one passenger, an 86-year-old woman, died the week after the accident.

After disembarking, the passenger stated that it took almost three hours for medical assistance to arrive, during which he was forced to wait on the tarmac in the dark. It wasn’t until eight hours after the crash that they were able to speak with an airline representative and were given access to the airport restaurant, the lawsuit states.

Fly Jamaica Airways ceased operations in 2021 after filing for bankruptcy. CTV News Toronto reached out to legal representation for the former airline, along with Boeing, for further comment, but did not receive a response from either via publication.

In a sworn statement to the court, a passenger said the accident significantly affected his quality of life.

“I continue to suffer from neck pain, shoulder pain, right foot pain, low back pain, PTSD, anxiety and depression,” he wrote. “My stress and anxiety have impacted my relationship with [my family]as well as my ability to fly or travel.”

Within weeks of the crash, two class-action lawsuits were filed against Fly Jamaica, Boeing and an unnamed aircraft mechanic on behalf of four Toronto-area passengers. The lawsuits ultimately proceeded as a single action. The lawsuit alleged that the parties were liable for negligence, that the aircraft was in poor condition when it took off, and that the crew had failed to adequately anticipate and declare an emergency.

Of the 120 passengers on board, 31 reached an agreement directly with Fly Jamaica Airways and 5 opted out of this action. The remaining 84 were named as members of the class action.

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