$7 Million Settlement for Aviation Accident Resulting in Paralysis

On April 28, 2000, plaintiff Wayne King was of one of three passengers, along with the owner/pilot, in a single-engine Beechcraft airplane that lost power and crashed in Maryland while returning to New Jersey from North Carolina.

Approximately one year prior to the crash the Teledyne Continental Motors (TCM) engine was the subject of a recall to ultrasonically inspect the crankshaft for cracks. TCM elected to hire local fixed base operators (FBO’s) to disassemble the counterweights necessary for the ultrasound to be performed and to reassemble after completion of the test. TCM prepared detailed disassembly/reassembly instructions, as those are tasks not typically performed by FBO’s. The instructions omitted crucial assembly steps needed to ensure that the counterweight assembly is securely fastened.

Defendant, Ocean Aire was the FBO that performed the work in accordance with these inadequate instructions. Subsequently, TCM revised the instructions to add the crucial steps, but specifically instructed FBO’s to not go back and redo any engines that had already been completed.

Following the crash, it was determined that the specific counterweight assemblies involved during the recall dislodged, resulting in oil loss and total oil starvation leading to piston deterioration and explosion.

Defendant, Pizzolato, as the owner, also performed maintenance on the aircraft. An alternate explanation for the engine failure is that a crack in the exhaust stack caused an overheating condition resulting in a blowback of exhaust, which deteriorated a piston, which in turn caused oil starvation. It was claimed that Pizzolato should have seen and repaired the cracks prior to this flight.

Similarly, defendant Lakewood Aviation, which performed an annual inspection of the aircraft between the time of the recall and accident, should also have addressed the exhaust stack crack. As the result of the accident, Wayne King suffered a T12 compression fracture resulting in paralysis from the mid-chest down. He retains function of his upper extremities.

As a result of his paralysis, plaintiff has had multiple bedsores and has had several hospital admissions to control the sores. He is also incontinent of bowel and bladder. Further, due to infection, hardware in his back has been removed, and since his bones never achieved union following treatment, he may require future back surgery.

Blume Donnelly partner, David Fried, obtained the $7 Million dollar settlement on behalf of Mr. King.