Texas jury rejects lawsuit against aircraft owner
Multi-million dollar claim denied
The jury for a lawsuit against the owner of an aircraft involved in a fatal 2005 accident rejected a request by the parents of one of the victims for $23.2 million plus punitive damages.
The Turbine Design TD–2 is believed to have attempted a go-around while arriving for a fuel stop at George R. Carr Memorial Air Field near Bogalusa, La. Both Terry Willis, riding in the front seat of the tandem-seat aircraft (the only cockpit with a throttle), and David Duff were killed. Details are in dispute as to what happened, but the turboprop single-engine aircraft went from an idle-power, nose-down attitude to a full power, nose-up attitude prior to the aircraft hitting the ground. Eyewitnesses reported that the aircraft rolled to the left before diving to the ground.
It is likely the verdict will be appealed. The parents of Duff brought suit against Mike Spearman, owner of the aircraft, in 410th District Court, Conroe, Texas.
Lead counsel Gary Evans of Coats and Evans said, “Although our client faced exposure to a potentially substantial verdict, we had excellent data from an electronic flight information system aboard the accident aircraft, and our experts were able to use that data and scientific principles to explain to the jury what really happened. Ultimately, the jury held the pilot-in-command to an appropriate level of responsibility under the Federal Aviation Regulations.”
December 18, 2008