$1,400,000: Las Vegas Airplane Crash Leads To Death Of Mother Of Two

CASE DESCRIPTION: Plaintiffs’ mother was one of several passengers killed when a private aircraft owned and operated by George D. crashed into the mountains outside of Las Vegas shortly after takeoff.  The Defense disputed liability and actual damages incurred by Plaintiffs.

RESULT:  $1,400,000.00 total settlement

The aircraft in question crashed into the mountains outside of Las Vegas, Nevada minutes after take off.  Stormy conditions prevailed in the area of the crash.  Prior to the crash, the plane made erratic changes in course and altitude.  Noting this erratic flight path, the air traffic controller suggested that they return to Las Vegas.  The aircraft crashed seconds thereafter.  Investigation revealed that the plane was under full power at the time of impact.  Plaintiffs contended that this crash was the result of pilot error on the part of George D., possibly caused by his poor physical health.  Mr. George D. suffered from leukemia, and his medication led to a diabetic condition.  In the months preceding the incident, Mr. George D. was hospitalized on a number of occasions for severe stomach upset, and had at least one episode of vertigo.

Plaintiffs brought suit due to the loss of their 44 year old mother.  Although she essentially stayed at home to raise her children, the decedent still possessed a four year college degree, a retail sales license, and an insurance broker’s license.  Therefore, the Decedent’s earning capacity was substantial.  Plaintiffs’ parents were divorced, and their father lived in Colorado.

Defendants contended that the crash was caused either wholly or in part, by the adverse weather conditions existing at the time of the crash.  They noted that the weather was so severe that another private aircraft aborted its flight and returned to the airport shortly before this crash occurred.  Defendants further contended that the tower personnel gave inadequate weather warnings and post take off instructions.  Defendants also contended that mechanical failure, perhaps from the automatic pilot, caused the incident.

In terms of damages the Defendants argued that Plaintiffs’ economic loss was nonexistent because the father wholly supported the Plaintiffs and that their mother had no clear work history.

TYPE OF CASE: Wrongful Death

INJURIES: Wrongful Death of mother of two children; their ages at the time of her death were 14 years and 9 years old.

DATE & LOCATION OF INCIDENT: January 11, 1992 at the mountains outside of McCarren Airport, Las Vegas, Nevada.

PLAINTIFFS’ AGE:  Deceased – 44 at time of incident.
Daughter – 14 at time of incident.
Son – 9 at time of incident.


Wylie A. Aitken & Darren O’Leary Aitken
For Plaintiffs – Kristen & Brent H.

Robert Kern
For Defendants – Nova Construction & The Estate of George D.