Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Defense Verdict


Michael McQuillen, John Kelly, Nicholas Bart, and Christopher Raistrick of Adler Murphy & McQuillen LLP successfully defended an autopilot manufacturer in a wrongful death action arising out of an airplane crash near Wheeling, West Virginia.

            On July 18, 2004, a Piper Saratoga crashed into a wooded area during its approach to the Wheeling Ohio County Airport. The pilot and four passengers received fatal injuries.  The pilot's estate brought a wrongful death action alleging that design defects in the autopilot caused the ailerons to jam, ultimately resulting in the crash.  Defendant argued that the autopilot was not defectively designed and played no role in the crash.  It further contended that the accident was the result of pilot error when the pilot lost situational awareness after encountering dark, nighttime conditions which caused him to lose control of the aircraft. 

            After a two-week trial, the jury returned a defense verdict on behalf of the defendant.  The pilot's estate sought over $39 million in compensatory damages.  The jury deliberated for less than two hours.  The  trial proceeded before Judge Lorna E. Propes in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois from October 24th to November 7th.