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$2.325 Million Settlement Reached in Airplane Crash Lawsuit Involving Piper Navajo Chieftain

January 27, 2004

Rapoport Weisberg & Sims P.C. announced today that it has reached a $2.325 million settlement for the family of a 61-year-old Oklahoma woman who was killed in the crash of a small airplane while on vacation in Hawaii on August 25, 2000. The Piper Navajo Chieftain aircraft was intentionally ditched into the Pacific Ocean by its pilot after one of the airplane’s engines caught fire and was shut down. The pilot, who survived the airplane crash, claimed that the aircraft would not climb, or even maintain level flight, after he shut down and feathered the failed engine.

The post-investigation of the airplane crash revealed that the fire in the left engine began when a rubber seal ruptured, allowing oil to spray on the turbocharger and ignite. The seal was recovered from the ocean floor. Rapoport Weisberg & Sims P.C. obtained a portion of the seal, and testing by an independent lab that they hired revealed that the seal, installed on the engine by Textron Lycoming five months prior to the airplane crash, was made of a rubber that did not conform to the engine manufacturer’s specifications. The aviation lawsuit was filed in the federal court in Santa Ana, California, against five defendants: the air tour operator, for pilot error; the engine manufacturer, for selling a defective overhauled engine; the manufacturer’s seal supplier; and two sub-tier seal suppliers, including the company that manufactured the defective seal out of the wrong raw material, while certifying that it was made of the correct raw material.

One problem encountered by the family was that the air tour operator was underinsured, with only $150,000 per passenger in insurance coverage, and no meaningful assets to cover the portion of the loss attributed to pilot error. Another problem was that the company that made the defective seal had no insurance and minimal assets. Discussing these problems, David E. Rapoport, lead aviation trial attorney for the family explained: “No amount of money will bring this fine woman back to life, and in this sense justice is not possible in this case. However, we are pleased we have been able to negotiate a multimillion-dollar settlement for the family in spite of the issues of inadequate insurance and minimal assets on the part of two of the defendants.”

Rapoport Weisberg & Sims P.C. is a personal injury law firm based in Chicago, Illinois. The personal injury attorneys at Rapoport Weisberg & Sims P.C. have achieved multimillion-dollar verdicts and settlements for individuals with lawsuits arising from medical malpractice, product liability, semitruck and motor vehicle accidents, workplace injuries and construction accidents in Illinois and Wisconsin. Rapoport Weisberg & Sims P.C.’s premier aviation negligence lawyers represent victims of commercial and general aviation disasters nationwide.

If you feel you may be in need of legal services, personally email an attorney from Rapoport Weisberg & Sims P.C. for a free case evaluation or telephone our Chicago office toll free at 877-216-4213.