A jury in Philadelphia awarded $89 million last month to family members of passengers killed in the Youngstown, Ohio, plane crash and to a survivor. The jury found that the manufacturer of the plane’s engine had concealed information about a faulty carburetor that caused the crash. The six-seat Piper Cherokee, built in 1968, crashed shortly after takeoff following a refueling stop in Youngstown in 1999.
The case has been in the courts for the past ten years. The state Supreme Court twice rejected arguments by the manufacturer that the claims were barred under a statute severely limiting negligence lawsuits for defects in airplanes more than 18 years old. The engine’s manufacturer was Lycoming Engines of Williamsport, Penn.
Preliminary reports by the National Transportation Safety Board found that the plane was near its maximum weight limit when it took off, and that much of its weight was distributed toward the back, making for difficult operating conditions. Lycoming Engines had long been aware of the carburetor defect but had failed to notify the Federal Aviation Administration. The jury awarded $25 million in compensatory and $64 million in punitive damages. Arthur Wolk, a well-known Philadelphia-based lawyer who focuses on plane crashes, handled this case and did a very good job.
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