March 8, 1997
Rapoport Weisberg & Sims P.C. aviation negligence attorney David E. Rapport served as lead trial lawyer for the trial team in the aviation negligence case surrounding USAir Flight 1016, a DC-9 aircraft that crashed while attempting to land in a thunderstorm at Charlotte Douglas Airport on July 2, 1994. Thirty-seven of the 57 passengers and crew aboard were killed. A South Carolina jury returned a verdict against USAir, finding that the flight crew’s negligence caused the airplane crash.
United States District Court Judge Joseph Anderson, who presided over the airplane crash case and trial, appointed a seven-member Plaintiff’s Steering Committee. David E. Rapoport was selected as the lead attorney for the three-member trial team. During trial, Mr. Rapoport and the trial team established that the USAir Flight 1016 crew was negligent, not just the air traffic controllers as previously contended by the airline.
After the verdict, the same jury was scheduled to hear arguments in the first three damages cases, but settlements were reached with each of the parties the week following the trial. Shortly after the settlements were reached in the first three cases, all of the remaining cases were settled.
Aviation negligence attorneys David E. Rapoport and Paul D. Richter of Chicago-based Rapoport Weisberg & Sims P.C. represented the first group to settle after the March 8 verdict. Mr. Rapoport noted that the settlement offers significantly increased as a result of the trial.
“This case is egregious because from the beginning of their training, pilots are taught that landing in thunderstorms is dangerous,” noted Mr. Richter, a licensed private pilot. “In my opinion, and what we demonstrated in court, was that the flight crew of this airplane chose to land in a thunderstorm when they knew it was there and then tried to lie about it to cover their deadly error. This was a disaster that could have been avoided if the pilots followed their training instead of choosing to land with a thunderstorm on their approach path. Contributing to the disaster was the failure by USAir management and the Federal Aviation Administration to mandate any objective standard for thunderstorm avoidance,” commented Mr. Rapoport. Mr. Rapoport then went on to note that according to the Pilot Windshear Training Aid that was published by the FAA in 1985, “Takeoffs and landings should not be attempted if there is a thunderstorm within three miles of the intended flight path while the aircraft is within 1,000 feet above ground level. But this guidance does not have the force of law, and documents collected during discovery in the case proved that USAir and some other air carriers have failed to include this objective standard for thunderstorm avoidance in their pilot operating handbooks.”
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.
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