$7.2 Million Dollar Jury Award & Settlement In Deadly Helicopter Crash Involving Lenexa, Kansas Man
In 2006, Lenexa, Kansas cameraman Roland Schlotzhauer was killed when the helicopter he was in struck overhead utility lines and crashed in an Iowa cornfield near highway 151 in Des Moines. Following a jury trial in 2009, a Polk County jury concluded that pilot error of Richard Green was the primary cause of the fatal helicopter crash and awarded Schlotzberger's wife $7,200,000. The award also included $4,160,000 for injuries to co-producer Tony Wilson who was seriously injured in the crash.
There were actually four lawsuits involved in these complicated legal proceedings and the result was one of the largest civil damage awards in Iowa history following a trial that lasted a full five weeks. The jury found that Green of Ritel Copter Service, the company "The Final Season," and two of the movie's producers were responsible for the deadly helicopter crash. No fault was assessed to co-producer Tony Wilson or Bristol Aerospace, manufacturer of a wire-strike protection system that was mounted on the helicopter. Green declined to comment on the resolution.
Every single day someone somewhere in the world is seriously injured or killed in a helicopter crash or an aviation accident. Extensive investigation is usually required and often reveals that the helicopter pilot or its charter company are at fault in these cases. The causes are often defective helicopter parts, badly maintained crafts, defective helicopter design, or the result of rebuilt and worn out helicopter parts. To prevail in a helicopter crash case, or an aviation crash case, it must be proven who was at fault, who caused or contributed to causing the helicopter or plane crash. Typically, aviation experts are required, including aviation engineers, helicopter crash experts, aviation accident investigators, who are hired by the plaintiff's personal injury attorneys to closely examine the facts of the helicopter or plane crash case and interview multiple witnesses to help determine who caused or contributed to the crash.
Aviation crashes involve both products liability and negligence theories and remedies. Since the injuries are typically severe and the product involved is so complex, plaintiff's attorneys must often assemble teams of legal experts and engineering experts to move the case forward to trial or settlement in order to obtain fair compensation on behalf of the injured or deceased and his or her family. In the case of the death of Lenexa, Kansas man Roland Schlotzhauer, justice was served three years later following both trial and subsequent mediation.