$1,460,000: Two Civilians Injured in Military Helicopter Crash
June 4, 2010
CASE DESCRIPTION: Plaintiffs were civilian military contractors maintaining equipment on the Fort Irwin Military Reservation. They were transported via helicopter to various cites. During one trip the helicopter crashed. Plaintiffs brought suit against the Government claiming that the accident was foreseeable. The Defendant disputed liability.
RESULT: $1,460,000.00 total settlement
Plaintiffs were civilian military contractors maintaining equipment on the Fort Irwin Military Reservation. While being transported between sites, a United States Army helicopter upon which Plaintiffs were passengers crashed following an in-flight engine failure. The helicopter caught on fire following the crash. The crash was rated “non-survivable” by military investigators. This matter was tried on liability only.
At trial the Plaintiffs’ argue that the engine failure was foreseeable as the helicopter was running hotter than expected throughout the day. In addition the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur was applicable in that the United States owned and operated the helicopter over a twenty year period.
The Defendant attempted to rebut liability by arguing that the engine failure was unforeseeable because the engine temperature never went outside the “green” (or normal) range. Res ipsa loquitur was inapplicable because the engine failure could have been the result of a manufacturing defect or faulty maintenance on the part of a civilian contractor.
TYPE OF CASE: Aviation. Court trial pursuant to Federal Tort Claims Act.
INJURIES: Jay W. – Broken ankle, post-trauma vertigo, scalp laceration.
Stanley G. – Severely broken left leg with a shortened leg, burns on right leg and arm, loss of use of small finger on right hand.
DATE & LOCATION OF INCIDENT: On 9/14/84 on Fort Irwin Military Reservation.
PLAINTIFF’S AGE: Stanely G. – 33 at time of incident.
Jay W. – 34 at time of incident.
OCCUPATION: Stanely G. – Electronic Engineer
Jay W. – Electrical Engineer
Darren O. Aitken & Wylie A. Aitken
AITKEN * AITKEN * COHN
For Plaintiff – Stanley G. & Jay W.
ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY
For Defendant – United States of America