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Representative Aviation Cases

At Rapoport Weisberg & Sims P.C. the firm’s aviation negligence lawyers have represented aircraft disaster victims and their families in legal venues across the country. Our attorneys’ experience with aviation litigation spans a broad range of commercial, corporate and recreational aircraft incidents.

Our lawyers’ understanding of aviation safety regulations, operation, maintenance, procedure, structure and design facilitates our ability to effectively represent our airplane accident clients. The firm’s aviation litigation team includes a former deputy director of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). David E. Rapoport was the lead trial attorney in both of the last two contested commercial air disaster liability trials against airlines in the United States. In both cases, the jury ruled against the airline. Mr. Rapoport has been selected as a Leading Lawyer in Aviation Law by the Law Bulletin Leading Lawyers Network.

Read Frequently Asked Aviation Accident Lawsuit Questions and Answers for information about your rights following an airplane crash or aviation accident.

Representative Commercial Aviation Negligence Cases:

American Airlines Flight 331 (Kingston, Jamaica Dec. 23, 2009) The aviation lawyers at Rapoport Weisberg & Sims P.C. were retained by multiple passengers injured aboard American Airlines Flight 331, which crash-landed in Kingston, Jamaica, on Dec. 23, 2009. While attempting to land in heavy rain at Norman Manley International Airport, Flight 331 skidded down the runway and across a road, coming to rest on a beach just feet from the ocean, with its fuselage cracked apart. More than 40 passengers were injured, many seriously.

Continental Airlines Flight 1404 (Denver, Colorado Dec. 20, 2008) Rapoport Weisberg & Sims P.C. was retained by a passenger who was injured when Continental Airlines Flight 1404 crashed following takeoff from Denver International Airport in Colorado.

Comair Flight 5191 (Lexington, Kentucky Aug. 27, 2006) In December 2009, Rapoport Weisberg & Sims P.C. aviation attorneys obtained a $7.1 million jury verdict for the family of a 39-year-old man who was killed when a regional jet operated by Delta Connection crashed while attempting to take off from the wrong runway at Blue Grass Airport in Lexington, Kentucky.

Southwest Airlines Flight 1248 (Chicago, Illinois Dec. 8, 2005) A confidential settlement was reached on behalf of 11 passengers who were onboard Southwest Airlines Flight 1248, a Boeing 737 airplane bound for Chicago’s Midway Airport during a snowstorm. After landing, the aircraft ran off the end of the runway, crashing through fences and colliding with vehicles before coming to a stop. Passengers suffered fear, pre-impact terror, distress and physical harm. An important ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit paved the way for a favorable settlement.

Air Midwest/U.S. Airways Express Flight 5481 (Charlotte, North Carolina Jan. 8, 2003) A confidential settlement was reached in this case in which Rapoport Weisberg & Sims P.C. represented the family of a co-pilot who was killed when the Beechcraft 1900 aircraft crashed shortly after takeoff from Charlotte Douglas International Airport.

American Airlines Flight 587 (Belle Harbor/Queens, New York Nov. 12, 2001) An Airbus A300-600 crashed shortly after takeoff from New York’s Kennedy International Airport. Rapoport Weisberg & Sims P.C. attorneys represented the family of the first officer. The terms of the settlement remain confidential.

EgyptAir Flight 990 (Nantucket Island, Massachusetts Oct. 31, 1999) Rapoport Weisberg & Sims P.C. represented the families of four passengers killed in the crash of EgyptAir Flight 990 on Oct. 31, 1999. Flight 990, a Boeing 767 bound for Cairo from New York, crashed into the Atlantic Ocean about 60 miles south of Nantucket Island. The cases proceeded to a bench trial in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, and judgment was entered in favor of the plaintiffs. On appeal, the cases settled for confidential amounts.

American Airlines Flight 1420 (Little Rock, Arkansas June 1, 1999) As a member of the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee in this airplane crash case, David E. Rapoport, assisted by Paul D. Richter, obtained a $14 million aggregate settlement for the victims and families that the firm represented. The terms of each individual settlement are confidential.

Swissair Flight 111 (Nova Scotia Sept. 2, 1998) David E. Rapoport served as a member of the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee in this case and was assisted by Paul D. Richter. A $13 million aggregate settlement was obtained for the victims’ families the firm represented. The terms of each individual settlement are confidential. The MD-11 airplane crashed off the coast of Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia, while en route from New York to Geneva.

United Express Flight 5925 (Quincy, Illinois Nov. 19, 1996) Representing the family of a pilot who died in this Beechcraft 1900C airplane crash, Rapoport Weisberg & Sims P.C. obtained a $3 million jury verdict with a finding of 20 percent contributory negligence and later obtained the largest portion of an interpleaded fund of $1 million in federal court.

American Eagle Flight 3379 (Morrisville, North Carolina Dec. 13, 1994) This tried case arose out of the crash of an American Eagle British Aerospace Jetstream aircraft. The verdict obtained with interest was approximately three times higher than the best pretrial settlement offer by the airline’s insurer.

USAir Flight 1016 (Charlotte, North Carolina July 2, 1994) USAir Flight 1016, a DC-9 aircraft, was struck by a microburst while attempting to land, killing 37 passengers and injuring the other 20 people on board. After the United States admitted liability for negligence by an air traffic controller who failed to promptly disseminate information about the deteriorating weather, a six-week jury trial was held in Columbia, South Carolina, addressing USAir’s liability, if any. USAir denied pilot negligence caused the crash, but the jury disagreed, finding USAir was negligent. As a result, all remaining cases settled soon thereafter.

For example, a $10 million aggregate settlement was reached for the victims and families Rapoport Weisberg & Sims P.C. represented. Individual amounts cannot be revealed due to a confidentiality agreement. David E. Rapoport served as lead trial lawyer for the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee in this case.

USAir Flight 405 (LaGuardia Airport, New York March 22, 1992) As lead trial lawyer, David E. Rapoport obtained an $8.1 million jury verdict in the first damages case tried arising out of the crash of USAir Flight 405, setting a record in Ohio.

United Flight 232 (Sioux City, Iowa July 19, 1989) In this case involving the crash of a United Airlines DC-10 aircraft, Mr. Rapoport was selected to serve as lead trial attorney in the consolidated federal cases. These cases were settled just before jury selection began in the federal court in Chicago. He represented several crew members in their products liability cases. The settlement amounts are confidential.

United Flight 811 (Hawaii Feb. 24, 1989) Mr. Rapoport represented the three pilots in this case involving the failure of a cargo door on a 747 aircraft, causing explosive decompression at 23,000 feet off the coast of Hawaii. The case was eventually settled for an amount that is confidential.

Representative General Aviation Negligence Cases:

Cirrus SR22 (Rock Springs, Wyoming Aug. 8, 2008) Rapoport Weisberg & Sims P.C. represented the family of a Chicago area cardiovascular thoracic surgeon and pilot who was killed in a midair collision involving two single-engine aircraft in Wyoming. The family retained Rapoport Weisberg & Sims P.C. to investigate and, if warranted, prosecute those responsible for the surgeon’s untimely death. A lawsuit was filed alleging that the crash was caused by a defective SkyWatch avionics system.

Piper PA-32R-301T (Wheeling, West Virginia July 8, 2004) In 2006, Rapoport Weisberg & Sims P.C. The Wolk Law Firm and Landye Bennett Blumstein filed a lawsuit in the state court in Chicago on behalf of the families of three Illinois citizens who lost their lives in the crash of a single-engine aircraft while attempting to land at Wheeling, West Virginia. The lawsuit alleged that the crash was a result of mechanical failures involving the altimeter, autopilot and instrument landing system.

The defendants in the lawsuit included the manufacturers of the altimeter and autopilot, along with a company that performed maintenance on the aircraft. The defendants argued that pilot error was responsible for the crash. In a separate lawsuit that was recently settled, the three law firms also sued the United States in federal court in Pennsylvania, arguing that the crash was caused in part by a malfunctioning component of the instrument landing system at the airport. Settlements have now been reached with all of the defendants other than the manufacturer of the autopilot.

Sino Swearingen SJ30-2 (Loma Alta, Texas April 26, 2003) The firm settled a case for the family of a test pilot who was killed testing a prototype of this aircraft.

Gates Learjet 25C-XR (Lexington, Kentucky Aug. 30, 2002) The firm represented the family of a woman who died, as well as her husband who suffered serious personal injury, when an air ambulance overran the runway and crashed at Blue Grass Airport in Lexington, Kentucky. In a lawsuit filed in Florida, it was alleged that the crash occurred as a result of a combination of pilot error and poor maintenance. During discovery, the co-pilot admitted his last check ride before the crash was documented, but never happened.

On the basis of this admission, the court allowed a claim for punitive damages to be added, and shortly after this, when Rapoport Weisberg & Sims P.C. reported the record falsification to the Federal Aviation Administration, a settlement was reached for more than the full insurance policy limit of $2 million. This case was featured in Forbes Magazine.

Piper PA-32RT-300T (Valparaiso, Indiana April 19, 2002) Rapoport Weisberg & Sims P.C.represented a passenger who suffered serious personal injury as a result of the crash of a single-engine aircraft shortly after takeoff at Porter County Airport in Valparaiso, Indiana. The investigation revealed the cause of the crash was pilot error. The case settled for the pilot’s full insurance limit.

Swearingen SA227-AT Crash (Beaver Island, Michigan Feb. 8, 2001) Rapoport Weisberg & Sims P.C. represented the family of a pilot occupying the right seat of a Metro that crashed as it circled to land at the Beaver Island airfield. The flight was an on-demand charter from Chicago’s Midway Airport to Beaver Island operated by Northern Illinois Flight Center. The pilot occupying the right seat was a flight instructor for NIFC hoping to become a charter pilot for NIFC who was riding along on the flight to build hours. In defense, NIFC argued it was immune from liability under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. After summary judgment on this defense was denied twice, the case settled for $1.45 million.

EMS (Quincy, Illinois Jan. 22, 2001) Rapoport Weisberg & Sims P.C. obtained a $1.5 million verdict for the family of a hospital security guard who was struck and killed by the tail rotor of an Air Evac medical helicopter while in violation of his own work rules. This award was reduced by 49 percent for the security guard’s contributory negligence. The security guard was supposed to be keeping people off the helipad while the helicopter engine was on; instead, he was killed while rolling the helicopter battery pack back to the hangar after the engine was started. The collectible verdict was three times greater than the defendant’s highest offer to settle this case.

Big Island Air Flight B157 (Hilo, Hawaii Aug. 25, 2000) The firm reached a settlement of $2.325 million in this case involving the crash of a Piper PA-31-350 (Piper Navajo Chieftain) scenic tour aircraft.