Verdicts & Settlements :: 2005 - 2009
2005 Sheesley vs. Capitol City Air Carrier
This South Dakota state court case arose out of the crash of a Cessna 340 twin engine aircraft as a result of an in flight fire from a broken turbocharger exhaust pipe that caused fuel interruption. The Wolk Law Firm proved that a bad weld in the pipe allowed exhaust gases to leak past the pipe flange and impact the firewall next to the crossover fuel lines. The heat caused the fuel in the lines to boil and interrupt the fuel supply to the engines causing the crash that killed three. After putting on the plaintiffs’ evidence the defense settled as did another defendant who watched the proceedings.
2005 Buschmann vs. City of Little Rock
The victim of this crash of a McDonnell Douglas MD-82 was none other than the Captain of the airliner. He died when the aircraft he was piloting left the runway at the Little Rock International Airport in a downpour and struck steel approach light supports placed illegally in what should have been an unobstructed runway safety area. At trial, The Wolk Law Firm established that the Little Rock Airport Authority and the City of Little Rock knew that it was vital to maintain a 1000 by 500 foot runway safety area free of obstructions just in case an aircraft left the runway. Instead they used political pressure on the FAA to install the approach light system with non-frangible steel poles. When the aircraft left the runway that stormy night, it was torn to shreds by the structures that shouldn’t have been there.
Previous to the trial the dead pilot was blamed for failing to arm the spoilers before landing, failing to use adequate braking and failing to uniformly apply reverse thrust to stop the aircraft. The evidence obtained by The Wolk Law Firm showed that the spoilers were armed, the engines were out of synch and thus spooled differentially and the brakes were also not functioning properly. All of these maintenance deficiencies it was proved had existed for months before that fatal flight and were not repaired by American Airlines. The jury awarded over two million dollars to the pilot’s family.
2005 Eigen vs. Precision
This case was settled during the trial when it became apparent that a defense witness had falsified documents after the accident. The deaths of three members of the Eigen family occurred when the carburetor on their Piper Cherokee caused an engine failure during an attempted go around at the Mount Snow Vermont Airport. Precision and its lawyers told the jury that the engine did not fail and later in post trial proceedings it was learned that they stated the engine in fact failed. One of the lawyers representing Precision was so angry that he had to pay in yet another Precision case, he leveled false charges against The Wolk Law Firm that later proved to be entirely fabricated. Precision wound up paying the full amount of the settlement plus interest and agreed not to engage in such behavior again. The Wolk Law Firm will never be intimidated.
2005 Caption Confidential
A seven million dollar ($7,000,000) settlement was obtained for a business executive killed when the engine on his turboprop aircraft failed due to mis-assembly by an overhauler. The engines were assembled with incorrect parts that caused engine failure before the crash.
2006 Terry vs. Teledyne
This case was settled after direct examination of the first witness and was a claim by three sisters who lost a fourth in the crash of a Cessna airplane due to a defective magneto manufactured by the defendant Teledyne. The aircraft crashed into the waters off Riverside California as it lost power just as the pilot was climbing to his cruising altitude. Two occupants drowned while the pilot lived. The court ruled that Teledyne’s history of felony convictions could be offered into evidence to prove its lack of credibility. Teledyne claimed that the magneto failure never occurred and the multiple breaks in the springs inside were due to its immersion in salt water for a day. The court scoffed at that explanation since that model magneto had a long history of broken springs that caused engine failures none of which aircraft crashed into the water.
2006 Randolph vs. Cessna
This successful settlement arose from the crash of a Cessna Caravan single engine turbine aircraft. The Wolk Law Firm hired the University of Texas to perform wind tunnel studies of the Cessna Caravan to determine why so many were crashing in only light to moderate icing conditions. The results were astounding. The research proved, the wing design, the deicing system design, the tail configuration and the flight manual were all defective. The Wolk Law Firm established that Cessna had deliberately misled the FAA and the NTSB about the flaws in the Cessna Caravan icing certification. The research has been made available publicly to fulfill another of The Wolk Law Firm’s goals, improvement in aviation safety.
2006 Jorgensen vs. Cessna
This settlement resulted from the death of a young executive being transported across the country in a corporate jet. The aircraft was making an approach to Pueblo Colorado to refuel when it suddenly rolled and crashed killing all aboard. The Wolk Law Firm determined the cause of the crash to be airframe icing due to the inadequacy of the equipment provided for the aircraft’s known icing certification by Cessna and the decision to fly that ill-equipped aircraft into the mountains for a fuel stop when the weather was conducive to moderate icing encounters. The Wolk Law Firm continues to emphasize to Government and industry that the standards and practices that allow inadequately equipped aircraft to fly in known icing conditions are unacceptable. The settlement allowed this outstanding young man’s family to recognize how valuable others believed him to be and the magnitude of his loss to them.
2006 Caption Confidential
A multi-million dollar settlement was reached for the death of a thirty year old man survived by a wife and young child when the Piper Seneca twin engine aircraft he was piloting disintegrated in flight due to a flutter of the stabilator. This was the fourth such in flight break-up in a Piper Seneca handled by The Wolk Law Firm. Basic aeronautical engineering research was commissioned by The Wolk Law Firm in an effort to get to the bottom of this all too common accident in Piper aircraft. Low flutter margins in the original design of the tail was found to be the cause. Complicating the problem is the deliberate failure of the manufacturer to let mechanics in the field know how serious the problem is, the signs to look for during inspections, and the risks of incomplete repairs.
2007 Godfrey, et al vs. Precision and Teledyne
A Daytona Beach, Florida jury awarded fifty five million dollars ($55,000,000) of which one million, five hundred thousand dollars ($1,500,000) were punitive damages against Precision Airmotive, LLC., maker of aircraft carburetors. Compensatory damages were also assessed against the engine maker, Teledyne Continental Motors. The verdict was for two young men, a flight instructor and his student who were badly injured but survived the crash of a Cessna 150 when an exhaust valve stuck in a recently overhauled rich running engine due to a new, but defective, carburetor. Evidence showed that both stuck valves and rich running carburetors causing engine malfunctions were common problems in this model, as were the means to fix them, which both manufacturers ignored.
The injuries included severe facial fractures and post traumatic stress disorder which put an end to both victims' desires to become airline pilots. Efforts to settle the cases before trial were rebuffed by the defendants who chose instead to personally attack the plaintiffs, their witnesses and their counsel.
2009 Caption Confidential
A nineteen million dollar ($19,000,000) settlement was obtained for two victims of an in flight break-up of a single engine aircraft.
The aircraft was approaching an airport for landing when it disintegrated as a result of flutter. This model had a long history of flutter breakups. Flutter occurs when aircraft flight controls or aerodynamic surfaces generate a harmonic which in an instant can destroy the aircraft. The two men aboard, both dentists, were killed instantly and were survived by wives and ten children.
2009 Caption Confidential
A partial settlement of two million seven hundred thousand dollars ($2,700,000) was reached for a young husband and wife who were killed when the airplane in which they were passengers disintegrated in flight in clear weather. This was one of more than a hundred in flight break-ups for this model aircraft. The aircraft which broke up due to flutter was rented to celebrate the couple’s anniversary. They are survived by two young children. An action is pending against the aircraft manufacturer.
2009 Caption Confidential
A four million dollar ($4,000,000) settlement was reached for the loss of a family which included two infants when the aircraft they were flying in suffered an engine failure on takeoff.
The failure was traced to a long known defect in the engine’s carburetor. The size of the settlement was affected by the advanced age of the surviving family members entitled to recover. The aircraft’s engine suffered roughness before the crash on a preceding flight but the owner was assured that the problem was not the carburetor.
2009 Caption Confidential
This two million seven hundred fifty thousand dollar ($2,750,000) settlement followed an eleven year fight against a foreign ultralight engine manufacturer who denied doing business in the United States.
Having been thrown out of twelve courts, The Wolk Law Firm persisted and one court accepted the case and supervised a good settlement for an injured victim of the engine failure who had mostly recovered from his injuries. The Wolk Law Firm never rests.