Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

$7.5 million settles case over Pennsylvania pilot’s death

A negligent act may not be isolated to a single individual. For instance, vehicles driven by commercial truck drivers in Allegheny County are often the property of a leasing firm or trucking company. The driver could be blamed for injuring or killing others in an accident, but the businesses may share fault for failure to follow safe practices.

A 54-year-old Pennsylvania pilot died after a crash the man's widow said was due to an incompetent co-pilot and employer's negligence. The 2009 fatal accident severely burned the primary pilot and injured, but did not kill, the second pilot, a contract employee of Quest Diagnostics.

The pilot died two weeks after the twin-engine Beechcraft struck a tree and burst into flames. The widow's lawsuit asserted the co-pilot was operating the aircraft when a first landing was scrapped in favor of a "go-round," a pilot's decision to retry a landing after an abandoned first attempt.

The flight originated in Pottstown, with a mission to deliver medical samples to a Quest lab in New Jersey, near the site where the plane went down. Quest � the plane's owner and operator -- was named as a defendant for contracting the inadequately trained and underqualified co-pilot.

The complaint included a segment from an interview the co-pilot gave after the accident, which seemed to show the contractor admitted responsibility for causing the two-seater plane's engines to lose power. The wrongful death case, filed in 2011, was never heard by a jury.

A pre-trial settlement of $7.5 million was reached with Quest. Compensation covered the victim's pain and suffering before death and the financial needs of the pilot's widow and the couple's daughter, including funds for the 11-year-old's future schooling.

Liability settlements avoid trials, which saves all parties effort and expense. Defendants are not required to admit guilt during settlements, but plaintiffs are guaranteed compensation without having to prove the defendant's negligence.

Source: NorthJersey.com, "Northjersey.com : Teterboro Lawsuit over 2009 plane crash near Teterboro ends in $7.5M settlement" Kibret Markos, Dec. 12, 2013

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