$8.5M Settlement in 2010 U.S. Army Helicopter Training Crash
By Dean I. Weitzman, Esq. on April 1st, 2016
The family of a 38-year-old U.S. Army civilian flight instructor who died in a 2010 helicopter crash during a training flight in Alabama will receive $8.5 million in compensation following the settlement of a wrongful death lawsuit that was filed by his wife.
The instructor, Jeremy Clark of Enterprise, Ala., was killed on Dec. 14, 2010 when the OH-58 Kiowa helicopter he was operating with a student pilot crashed at Fort Rucker during an Army training session, according to a March 29 story in the Dothan (Alabama) Eagle newspaper.
Clark’s wife, Jennifer, filed a lawsuit against the company that was responsible for inspecting the training helicopters at the base after an investigation found that at least two related incidents occurred with the helicopter just days before the fatal crash without measures being taken to fix the problem, the story reported. The helicopter on Dec. 9, 2010 experienced a failure of its “Fully Automatic Digital Engine Control (FADEC) unit, which “caused the helicopter’s engine to revert to a ‘fixed fuel state,’ which means the engine reverted and froze at its last power setting prior to the failure.”
In that situation the “failure occurred with the engine in a high power setting and the pilot was able to safely land the helicopter at Hunt Stage Field,” the story reported.
The Rolls-Royce Corp., the makers of the chopper’s engine, later “traced the failure to a piece of equipment known as the Compressor Inlet Temperature (CIT) probe,” the story reported. “The complaint states Rolls-Royce failed to determine what caused the CIT probe to fail and made no changes to the helicopter.”
A routine maintenance check of the helicopter was then performed by Army Fleet Support, and the craft was then again cleared for flight on Dec. 13, 2010, the story reported.
The next day, Dec. 14, 2010, Clark was in the helicopter with a student pilot when it “experienced another FADEC unit failure” while the engine was in a law speed setting, the story reported. The helicopter “could not be recovered” and crashed, killing Clark, the story continued. “The complaint states Rolls-Royce should have determined the cause of the CIT probe failure before clearing the helicopter for flight.”
Clark worked as a Department of Army civilian instructor with Charlie Troop, 1st Battalion, 14th Aviation Regiment at the base since June 2009, according to the story.
The settlement includes $8 million from the company responsible for inspecting the aircraft and $500,000 from maintenance company responsible for the helicopter, the story reported. The settlement was reached in 2015 but was not approved until last week, according to documents filed in U.S. District Court in Alabama.
Clark and his wife have two children.
These kinds of tragic legal cases occur every day when innocent victims are severely hurt or killed in a wide variety of vehicle crashes and incidents through no fault of their own due to the actions, inattentiveness or indifference of others. That’s why it is critical to have a legal team on your side that uncovers every fact to bolster your case and maximize your damage award.
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