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View Full Version : Disk jockey 'DJ AM' files lawsuit in Learjet crash


denlopviper
3rd Jan 2009, 20:29
Of particular interest to me here is that not only is he suing just about every company involved in manufacturing the parts for the aircraft and the aircraft itself, but is going after the estates of the two pilots as well.

personally its insane to sue the families of the dead crew, they have already paid the price for any mistakes they made (if they made any that is). is it even legal to do something like this


DJ AM files lawsuit in South Carolina plane crash - Yahoo! News (http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081224/ap_en_ot/learjet_crash_lawsuit)

Checkboard
3rd Jan 2009, 21:02
Of course it's legal to sue. As a passenger on a flight, he expected a safe journey, instead he was badly injured.

It remains for the court to decide if his injuries were the cause of negligence on the part of someone, or simply an unavoidable accident. I know nothing of the circumstances, so won't comment further.

As a general observation, some people can determine for themselves if negligence was involved, some appear to think that any injury they receive must be the fault of someone, some are just trying their chances. Two years ago I broke my elbow on an artificial ski slope in the UK. I considered that I undertook the risk of injury when I decided to partake in the sport and never even considered suing anyone. Some people need a court to tell them that.

denlopviper
3rd Jan 2009, 21:24
but isnt it unethical. its not like these guys are short on any sort of money.

him and Travis baker were the only 2 survivors of the total 6 onboard including the crew. i think it was a Lear 60. the crash was the result of an aborted take off

Checkboard
3rd Jan 2009, 21:39
Isn't it unethical to think that justice is dependant on your financial status? :ugh:

John Farley
3rd Jan 2009, 21:45
Sadly I don't think anything other than money comes into this sort of thing.

In the 70s I had to go to the States to give evidence after a USMC Harrier fatal. Lawyers for the pilot's widow took on all the companies you could think of connected with the manufacture of the aircraft. The total claim was for an unbelievable number of millions of dollars. I believed I could explain and show there was no relevant technical failure involved and after giving my deposition was pleased with my performance and felt we were bound to win.

The next day I was told our side had settled for 750k. I was livid.

Then it was explained to me that however good our case you can never be certain what a judge will decide and all concerned on our side felt the 750k deal was brilliant compared to what it would have cost had we lost.

Mind you how much of the 750k went to the widow is quite another matter.

mini
3rd Jan 2009, 22:03
"Two years ago I broke my elbow on an artificial ski slope in the UK. I considered that I undertook the risk of injury when I decided to partake in the sport and never even considered suing anyone. Some people need a court to tell them that."

The legal types refer to this as volenti non fit injuria - you volunteer therefore accept the risk. As one who has led a life of hazardous pastimes I agree with your attitude, ambulance chasers suck. :suspect: Man up.

glad rag
3rd Jan 2009, 22:09
mini u rock!

Bealzebub
3rd Jan 2009, 22:31
Denlopviper,

Don't get too excited. This is what often happens in lawsuits of this nature. All possible and potential parties are named in a suit and it gets settled or defended by the insurers.

Two's in
4th Jan 2009, 03:39
Just to expand a little on John Farley's post, here's how it works. You immediately "lawyer up" and hit everybody involved with a lawsuit, regardless of their role or responsibility. Those with money or corporate counsel will immediately rebut the claim in court, but everyone gets hit.

The legal premise is very simple, the largest variable in a court room is the jury, so if you make it to a jury, the legal basis of your claim is largely immaterial as nobody can predict with any certainty how 12 members of the public will swing. The only way to avoid getting hit for the amount of the claim and then some nonsensical punitive damages from 12 "Joe Six-packs" is to negotiate prior to the hearing. If the claim is for $10M in the lawsuit, then settling out of court for $500K suddenly seems like a bargain to the liable party, even though they may have reasonable grounds for fighting the case!

Even with a cast iron case, the idea of letting a jury decide the outcome is just too unpredictable for most legal teams, so they will settle out of court for an amount that will probably be a lot less than their court costs, even if they lost.

Is it justice? - Hell no.
Who wins? - Guess who gets paid pro rata legal fees regardless of any awards or outcomes (begins with L)
Who allows this system? - The Judges who all used to be Lawyers

BelArgUSA
4th Jan 2009, 05:00
Guys from civilized nations...
Do you know that the two favorite hobbies in the USA are -
(1) Gun ownership (especially assault weapons) and violence.
(2) Sue you, sue me, sue him, sue everybody in court.
As much as pilots, many unemployed lawyers in Yankistan.
xxx
:E
Happy contrails

pigboat
4th Jan 2009, 14:54
Guys from civilized nations...
Do you know that the two favorite hobbies in the USA are -
(1) Gun ownership (especially assault weapons) and violence.
(2) Sue you, sue me, sue him, sue everybody in court.

I see an opportunity here. Pilots should be issued with assault weapons and told to shoot any survivors of a crash. Let's see the feckers sue when they daid. :p

con-pilot
4th Jan 2009, 17:40
It is very normal that all parties involved in the manufacturing of an aircraft involved in a lawsuit over an aircraft accident be sued. I'm not saying it is right, just that it is normal.

The one case I will site involved a Bell 222 helicopter that belonged to the company that I was the Chief Pilot. The helicopter was on a normal passenger flight when it suffered a massive rotor hub assembly failure resulting in a fatal accident causing the death of the pilot and both passengers. The Bell 222 was brand new and only had 117.1 hours total time since manufacture. One of the results of this accident was to cause all Bell 222s in the world to be instantly grounded and modified before future flight, but that is for another time.

The pilot's widow, along with my company the families of the other two accident victims, sued Bell and all other companies involved with the manufacture of the helicopter. The engine, tires, brakes, avionics, etc companies. Because the cause of the accident was so obvious all lawsuits, except against Bell, were settled for one USD or were dismissed. Bell however, was forced to settled out of court for millions of dollars.

In the case of this lawsuit being discussed on this thread I am concerned about the families of the pilots. From what I understand the PIC was a full time employee of the company operating the aircraft and should be covered by company's insurance liability. However, the SIC was a part time contract pilot and is not covered by the owing company's insurance. Therefore, his family could be exposed to high costs, hopefully the plaintiff will settle for a nominal amount as the family has very little in the way of assets compared to the plaintiff.

This accident has been discussed at great lengths on the 'Biz Jet' forum.

galaxy flyer
4th Jan 2009, 18:37
C-P

If I might add to your post, the smarter contract pilots who are in it for awhile, have "incorporated" and act as employees of their corporation. It is fairly inexpensive, and limits liability to the remaining paper clips, uniforms, Jepp binders that remain post-crash. I even had F/A that incorporated. Also, can result in some nifty tax benefits.

GF

con-pilot
4th Jan 2009, 18:46
If I might add to your post, the smarter contract pilots who are in it for awhile, have "incorporated" and act as employees of their corporation. It is fairly inexpensive, and limits liability to the remaining paper clips, uniforms, Jepp binders that remain post-crash. I even had F/A that incorporated. Also, can result in some nifty tax benefits.


Very true and an excellent point. Thank you. :ok:

PLovett
5th Jan 2009, 08:04
If I might also add something here. Litigation in the US is, as some posters have said, an unknown variable, but it is not due to the judges. There is in the US, as in other common law countries such as the UK and Aust., a mix of common law and legislation covering personal injury law (aka Tort Law).

The basic principle is negligence, expressed as, "Do I owe a duty of care to my neighbour?, if yes, Who is my neighbour?, Have they suffered due to my negligence?". If a plaintiff can show that they were owed a duty of care, such as passengers in an aircraft are owed a duty of care by the pilots, and they have suffered due to a lack of care (negligence) then they are entitled to damages. For anyone who cares to read the head case then they should read Donoghue v Stevenson (1932), otherwise known as the snail in the ginger beer bottle. No, it's not American but Scottish in origin.

The "shotgun" approach to sueing everyone with the remotest connection with the crash is common but stupid. It wastes court time in throwing out the frivolous parties when deciding what is the guts of the matter. The basic thrust of personal injury cases is to follow the money, who has insurance cover and hopefully those who have will be the ones who owe the duty of care.

This particular case will probably settle out of court. The majority do. Rarely is liability in issue, especially in US cases because of the "No win, no fees" approach to cases. A firm of lawyers needs to know they have a better than evens chance of getting a settlement or a win because otherwise they are out of pocket big time.

Some here may recall the John Travolta film, "Civil Action" which was based on a true case. A crusading lawyer took on a chancy case against two defendant companies for contaminating the drinking water of a New England town. The case was proven against one of the defendants but the case against the other was thrown out. What they won in damages went nowhere near the costs of arguing the case and the firm of lawyers went bankrupt.

The other reason defendants settle rather than fight is that it is often cheaper, a lot cheaper. Defendants in personal injury cases are liable for legal fees and in addition, where an insurance company is involved, they will most likely take the case out of the hands of the defendants. After all it is their money that will be paid out to any plaintiff, or at least they regard it as their money until they hit you with increased premiums next year.

John Farley, with regard to the $750k, it is most likely the plaintiff got about $560k. The old rule was that the lawyer used to get 33% of damages awarded by a court, 25% of damages in a settlement.

As an afterthought, juries in the US tend to be very sympathetic to an injured plaintiff. The basis is that a person has suffered severe injuries, there is little or no social security net, there is a rich insurance company involved, let's award millions in damages. Looks good on paper, but the damages award is often reduced on appeal.

No, I have never worked as a lawyer in the US but once had a very long discussion with a very distinguished US judge who took the time to explain how the system works there. I hope this is of some benefit.

Vee1Kut
5th Jan 2009, 08:25
If I jump out of a plane, walk across the street, sleep with someone new, I calculate risk, act accordingly, prevent what I can...it's based on my skill, my ability, my judgement and ezperience...

If I go under the knife, sit in the back of plane, ride in someone's gondola, ect and some idiot screws up, where I had absolutely no ability to control his decision making, his judgement, ect....and I go down...you bet...when he screws up, he's gonna pay.

The sad silly fact of the matter, we practice V1 cuts every year, over and over, and over....in real life it's easier then a sim....these guys screwed up, people are dead.

No amount of money will get them back, make thier families feel better, and at the end of the day it's the greedy insurance company that pays...who took the premiums after they assumed the same risk that that passenger, patient ect assumed.

Sometimes sorry just isn't enough.

A A Gruntpuddock
5th Jan 2009, 18:47
I once attended a series of lectures on the law.

The lecturer outlined an accident involving a rather bizarre set of incidents then asked us to comment on who should be sued for damages.

After a lot of discussion and various points of view from the audience about the liabilities of those concerned, he said that we were wasting our time.

He would sue everybody because you never knew what the courts would decide.

I thought this was far-fetched until the Abbeystead case (following an explosion in 1984), where a small sub-contractor with hardly any involvement and the engineer who carried out the design were found equally liable for a huge payout! :ugh:

Another law lecturer later explained the judges sometimes 'extended' the law to assist victims who would not otherwise have been given any damages.

In another case, a resident engineer spoke to a contractor several times about a missing piece of scaffolding rail and issued written instructions to have it replaced.

Before this was done, a workman fell and was killed.

The judge said that the engineer was partly liable for damages, and the only way he could have avoided this penalty would have been to stop the work, although he accepted that the engineer had no right to do so under the contract! :ugh:

A council worker stopped to speak to an old friend who he saw working an a trench. When the trench later collapsed and killed his friend he was fined under H&S laws for not telling his friend that the trench was dangerous.

You never know what a court (especially one with a jury) will decide so you might as well sue everyone.

I heard a co-worker who was just back from jury service say 'I don't know why they bothered to try him, you could tell as soon as he walked in the room that he was guilty'!