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Wrongful-Death Lawsuit Filed In Santa Monica Plane Crash

LOS ANGELES ( — Three sons who lost their mother in a plane crash at Santa Monica Airport filed a wrongful-death lawsuit Tuesday against the estate of the aircraft's pilot, alleging negligence.

Kyla Dupont, 53, was killed aboard a twin-engine Cessna Citation aircraft that went off the runway Sept. 29 before colliding with a runway sign and crashing into a hangar. The hangar collapsed on the plane, which then caught on fire. Authorities said the blaze, which spread to two nearby hangars, burned at unusually high temperatures due to jet fuel.

Kyla Dupont's sons Charles Dupont, Elliot Dupont and Jackson Dupont brought the complaint in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleging the pilot failed to maintain proper control over the plane, did not undertake the necessary actions to achieve a safe flight, acted unreasonably in the landing of the plane and failed to maintain the aircraft with proper repairs.

Mark Benjamin, the 63-year-old president of Santa Monica-based construction company Morley Builders, was believed to be at the controls at the time of the crash. The passengers were returning from a trip to Hailey, Idaho.

Benjamin's 28-year-old son Lucas and 28-year-old Lauren Winkler, Lucas' girlfriend,  were also killed in the crash.

The suit seeks unspecified damages from the estate of Mark Benjamin and Malibu-based MML Investments LLC, a real estate and aircraft management company. A representative for the Benjamin estate could not be reached for comment.

The cause of the crash remains unclear. A preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board's investigation found no debris on the runway at the time of the crash and said all four of the aircraft's tires were inflated upon landing.

At the time of the crash, NTSB officials said the pilot never contacted authorities stating there was a problem.


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(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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