Late Hedge Fund Manager’s Wife Sues Over Plane Crash

Jul 25 2008 | 12:58pm ET

The ex-wife of Michael Klein has sued the late hedge fund manager’s estate over their daughter’s death in a plane crash.

Klein was “in control of the aircraft” when it crashed in the Panamanian mountains two days before Christmas, according to the wrongful death suit filed on behalf of his daughter Talia by her mother, Kim Klein. Klein’s Santa Barbara, Calif.-based hedge fund firm, Pacificor, and Klein’s Panama resort, Islas Secas, where he, his daughter and her best friend, Francesca Lewis, were staying, were also named as defendants.

In the suit, filed last week in Santa Barbara Superior Court, Kim Klein says she has suffered due to her ex-husband’s “careless, negligent, wanton, reckless and unlawful acts.” She claimed economic and non-economic damages, including funeral and burial costs and property damage.

According to Kim Klein, Michael Klein undertook the flight despite “dangerous and severe” weather, “with rain, overcast conditions and fog at low altitudes covering the mountains, turbulence and vertical winds which were gusting up to 36 knots.” The suit alleges that Michael Klein “intentionally, recklessly, and in conscious disregard for the safety of others, flew, or directed the flight of the [plane] into said dangerous and perilous conditions, for business purposes.”

The flight to Volcan, north of Islas Secas, was designed to take photos of properties.

Kim Klein adds that the pilot, Edward Lasso, was allegedly known in Panama’s flying community as “Mr. Death” due to previous incidents. Lasso was also killed in the flight.

The family of Lewis, the only survivor of the crash, has also filed suit against Klein’s estate.

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