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Alaska Airlines Flight 261 was scheduled to fly on January 31, 2000, from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, to Seattle, Washington, with a planned intermediate stop in San Francisco. Off the California coast, the crew fought to keep the nose of the plane from pitching—or pointing—down. At about 4:20 p.m., the pitch of the plane changed from 2.7 degrees to 70 degrees in less than 15 seconds, and within about one minute, the plane hit the water. All 88 people onboard—five crew and 83 passengers—were killed.
Our investigation determined that the probable cause of the accident was “a loss of airplane pitch control resulting from the in-flight failure of the horizontal stabilizer trim system jackscrew assembly’s acme nut threads. The thread failure was caused by excessive wear resulting from Alaska Airlines’ insufficient lubrication of the jackscrew assembly.”
Additionally, it was found that Alaska Airlines’ extended lubrication interval contributed to the accident, as did the absence of a fail-safe mechanism to prevent the catastrophic effects of total acme nut thread loss.
Jamie Lebovitz and his legal team represented 18 families of the victims, and he was a member of the Plaintiff’s Steering Committee in charge of handling the litigation for all families.
Confidential settlements were reached for a number of the victims’ surviving family members.