Verdicts & Settlements :: 1970 - 1989
1971 Hortman vs. Piper
Successful settlement due to the crash of a Piper Cherokee Six in the mountains of Virginia. The aircraft was flown by a 39,000 hour retired airline pilot. The Wolk Law Firm proved that the 15% concentration of carbon monoxide in the victimís blood was due to a leaking cabin heater muffler rendering the pilot unconscious at cruising altitude of 9,500 feet. Cause of the accident was the choice of stainless steel for the muffler by Piper which knew that the material was brittle and could fail without warning.
1973 Rauch vs. United Instruments
This was the first successful aviation class action brought to reimburse owners of defective aircraft altimeters the cost of modifications to improve their resistance to jamming.
1984 Harper vs. Cessna
This was the first of the seat slip accident trials that resulted in punitive damages against Cessna. The Wolk Law Firm represented two of the victims of this single engine airplane crash that was caused by a defective seat latch that allowed the pilotís seat to slip backwards on takeoff. The sudden movement of the seat was proved to have caused a loss of control, pitching the airplane up and then suddenly down causing the deaths of three of the four occupants and serious injuries to a fourth occupant. It was proved that Cessna had hundreds of reports of similar accidents and did nothing to remedy the problem. The jury awarded twenty-nine million three hundred thousand dollars ($29,300,000) in compensatory and punitive damages.
1989 Bealer vs. United Airlines
This was one of many passenger cases handled by The Wolk Law Firm arising out of the crash of United 232, a McDonnell Douglas DC-10 that crashed in an Iowa cornfield following an explosion in its tail mounted engine. The shrapnel tore the three hydraulic lines apart and the aircraft became uncontrollable. Thanks to the courageous efforts of a DC-10 check airman riding in the back, who came forward to help, many were saved, although 110 were lost. The plaintiff in this case was a newlywed who lost her husband. The case was settled before trial. Arthur Alan Wolk is credited with disclosing the exact cause of this crash on Larry King Live within three hours of the accident.
1989 Murray vs. General Electric Company United Flight 232
This trial was the only one actually taken to verdict arising out of the crash of United 232. The plaintiff was a flight attendant whose principal injury was post traumatic stress disorder. She was too afraid to fly as a crewmember after experiencing the terror of the United 232 disaster. Verdicts in such cases had not exceeded $125,000 before a jury in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania awarded the plaintiff one million three hundred thousand dollars ($1,300,000).
This verdict remains the largest ever in aviation for post traumatic stress disorder. The Wolk Law Firm also represented a number of families who lost loved ones in the crash. All other settlements were very favorable to the families of the victims. Arthur Wolk was on the Plaintiffs' Steering Committee and, before his settlements and verdict, was lead trial counsel. Most notable was that on an appearance on Larry King Live within hours of the crash, Arthur Wolk correctly identified the cause of the crash, an achievement that caused Larry King not only to write a letter complimentary to Arthur Wolk, but also to have him back on his show more than twenty times since 1989 to speak on matters of aviation safety and airplane accidents.
1989 Caption Confidential
This six million dollar ($6,000,000) settlement was paid for the loss of a pilot whose aircraft crashed on approach to an airport when dirt contaminated the fuel control and caused an engine to roll back to flight idle. The manufacturer was required to issue a corrective service bulletin as part of the settlement.
1989 Schofield vs. Piper Aircraft Corporation
A jury awarded the parents of a young pilot the largest verdict for loss of a child by parents who were not dependent. The six million dollar ($6,000,000) verdict arose from the crash of a Piper Aztec on approach in bad weather when one of the wing flaps suddenly retracted due to the failure of a part that had failed repeatedly in the past.