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Greenhill Director’s Estate Sues Over 2011 Plane Crash

The estate of Rakesh Chawla, the Greenhill & Co. (GHL) managing director killed in a December 2011 plane crash in Harding, New Jersey, sued the estate of colleague Jeffrey Buckalew, who was at the controls and died with him.

Buckalew and Cool Stream LLC, the company that he owned and that held title to the plane, wrongfully caused Chawla’s death by allowing a flight in bad weather that the pilot wasn’t sufficiently skilled or prepared to fly in, Chawla’s estate said in a complaint filed in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan today.

“Buckalew owed his passengers, including Rakesh Chawla, a reasonable duty of care to operate, pilot and/or control the subject aircraft in a reasonable, prudent and safe manner during the subject flight,” according to the complaint.

Greenhill, where Chawla, 36, and Buckalew, 45, were colleagues, is a New York-based independent investment bank founded by former Morgan Stanley (MS) President Robert F. Greenhill.

The plane, a six-seat Socata TBM 700 turboprop, was also carrying Buckalew’s wife, Corinne, and their children, ages 11 and 6, all of whom were killed in the crash about 30 miles (48 kilometers) outside New York while headed to Atlanta.

The plane broke apart midflight after Buckalew radioed that it was picking up ice, according to the complaint.

Claiming her husband suffered conscious physical and emotional injuries, including severe physical pain, terror of impending death and, ultimately, death, Chawla’s widow and executor, Cathleen, seeks unspecified money damages on behalf of herself and their three children.

Bruce McKissock, an attorney for the Buckalew estate, didn’t immediately reply to a voice-mail message after regular business hours seeking comment on the suit.

The case is Chawla v. Cool Stream LLC, 159360-2013, Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of New York (Manhattan).

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Harris in Chicago federal court at aharris16@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net

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