Skip to comments.Golfer's [Payne Stewart] Family Seeking Millions Over Fatal Plane Crash
Posted on 05/04/2005 6:41:12 PM PDT by RedBloodedAmerican
ORLANDO, Fla. -- A civil trial has started over who and what is to blame for the 1999 Learjet crash that killed pro golfer Payne Stewart and five others.
The lawsuit, brought by the families of Stewart and his close friend and agent Robert Fraley, who also died, could result in a jury award worth millions if the plane's manufacturer is found to be at fault.
Or testimony could show that a lack of pilot training and plane maintenance caused the Learjet 35 to lose pressure soon after takeoff from Orlando, killing all aboard within minutes. The plane then began an eerie journey across America before running out of fuel and nose-diving into a South Dakota pasture.
The case, which began Tuesday, is expected to take six weeks to argue.
The Oct. 25, 1999, crash came months after Stewart won the U.S. Open, his third major championship. That victory was one reason an attorney for the families calculated that Stewart, who was 42, could have earned more than $200 million in winnings, endorsements and other ventures if his career had not been cut short.
"The evidence is going to show this case is first and foremost about trust and responsibility," said Daniel Barks, a lead attorney for the families. "Learjet violated that trust. ... They wagered the lives of Bob Fraley and Payne Stewart."
Barks will try to pin the crash on defects within the outflow valve and its adapter, which sit near the front nose of the aircraft. The valve helps maintain pressure in the cabin during flight and depressurizes a plane upon descent.
Barks said poor design, lack of testing and weak materials caused the adapter to fail, exposing a 3-inch hole and allowing depressurized air into the cabin.
Learjet attorneys don't dispute that the cabin lost pressure that day, but they say the valve adapter worked as it should have.
"This adapter did not fail," said Robert Banker, attorney for Learjet. "There's nothing wrong with that adapter."
Banker's team notes the part was approved by the Federal Aviation Administration and remains in more than 300 aircraft. The part has no history of failures, the defense contends.
Learjet will try to blame Sunjet Aviation, the plane's operator, which closed not long after the crash, with failing to maintain the aircraft. They pointed out a history of problems the company had with maintenance and finances.
And the attorneys said Sunjet's pilot, Michael Kling, had not been adequately trained and perhaps could not respond to a rapid depressurization quickly.
It was Sunjet Aviation's fault with the plane, not Learjet. I wonder how this will turn out.
The Air Force flies the Lear 35 (known as the C-21). Darn fine aircraft.
If we in the U.S. had a "loser pays" legal system of awarding legal fees, cases like this wouldn't make it to the courtroom.
I have a buddy that has a couple of Lears. He lovingly (somewhat) refers to them as "land darts".
The evidence will show that this is all about MONEY. Go after the deep pockets with a jury of idiots.
Florida has a two year statute of limitations on wrongful death I think. It's been 6 years.
Oh, I see, now. The case is just going to trial now. Was obviously filed years ago.
The lawyer scum are searching for the deepest pockets, whereever they can find it!
Barks said poor writing, lack of science training, and weak comprehension skills caused the writer to fail, exposing a logic hole and allowing depressurized air to overcome pressurized air and enter the cabin.
I hate this. Cash in! Cash in! Cash in!
And they could win no matter how unfair.
of course its about money, it's a civil suit igmo. What do you want them to sue for, 500 hammer hits?
that was my question, unless there was a tolling agreement.
I remember listening to Rush when this happened, and I thought he was kidding.
>> If we in the U.S. had a "loser pays" legal system of awarding legal fees, cases like this wouldn't make it to the courtroom.
But then we would have a brand new welfare class: trial lawyers! It is about damn time we sent their sorry butts to hell where they belong.
read my other post, though. Apparently, it was filed long ago. Just going to trial now. It's the filing date that matters.
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