Cook County Jury Awards $115 Million to Trio of Flight Crew Members Killed Transporting Military Vehicles

airplaneThe crash of a cargo jet flying from a British military base in Afghanistan while hauling U.S. military vehicles killed all seven people on board. The crash also spawned multiple lawsuits, one of which was concluded recently here in Chicago, Cook County Record reported. In that case, the jury awarded the families of three of the deceased men on board a sum total of almost $115 million after the evidence in the case revealed that the vehicles on board were not properly restrained and that one of those vehicles broke free, leading to the crash.

The ill-fated flight was hauling mine resistant armor protected (MRAP) vehicles for the U.S. Defense Department from a British base, Camp Bastion, in Afghanistan to Dubai. In Dubai, the MRAP vehicles would be placed on sea vessels and transported to California. The plane, a Boeing 747, was very “overburdened,” according to the complaint filed by the plaintiffs. MRAP vehicles weigh roughly 12-18 tons. Allegedly, the 747 could only handle the weight of one 12-ton MRAP vehicle. It was transporting five:  two 12-ton vehicles and three 18-ton vehicles.

Another safety problem, according to the plaintiffs, was restraints. In addition to the plane’s hauling too much weight, the restraints that were used to keep the MRAP vehicles in place were insufficient and in poor condition. The plaintiffs, who were the families of three of the crew members killed on board the flight, presented evidence to the court that there were too few restraints. The heavier 18-ton vehicles were held down by 26 restraints; the 12-ton vehicles had 24 restraints. (Boeing had determined that 60 restraints were required just to secure one of the 12-ton vehicles.)

Shortly after the plane took off from Camp Bastion, the restraints of one of the MRAP vehicles gave way. That caused the freed vehicle to slam into and through the plane’s tail. The impact damaged the plane’s hydraulics and flight control systems. The plane pitched nose-up, then stalled, and then crashed to the ground.

Initially, one of the defendants sought to move the case to federal court. The legal basis for this request was that the vehicles were being hauled for the U.S. Department of Defense, meaning that the case implicated federal law. Despite the military’s ownership of the MRAP vehicles, the federal District Court judge determined that the questions of liability in the case were not ones of federal law and sent the case back to Illinois court in Cook County.

The jury found that the plaintiffs’ proof of improper and inadequate safety precautions warranted a judgment of liability and award of damages to the families. The family of the man serving as the flight’s pilot received $25 million, the family of the man serving as the navigator received $43 million, and the family of a third pilot who was part of the flight crew received $47 million.

The crash also killed three other men on board the flight. These families’ cases are still pending.

Whether the flight in question is a cargo flight or a commercial flight, observing proper safety protocols is vital. When proper safety isn’t observed, and flight crew members are hurt or killed, they (or their families) may be entitled to significant compensation. The knowledgeable Chicago aviation accident attorneys at Katz, Friedman, Eagle, Eisenstein, Johnson & Bareck have been representing injured flight crew members in injury cases and loved ones of crew members in wrongful death actions for many years and have the skill and experience to handle your case. To set up a free case evaluation, contact us at 800-444-1525 or through our website.

More Blog Posts:

Turbulence and Injuries to Airline Cabin Crews, Chicago Injury Attorneys Blog, July 6, 2017

Flying the Unfriendly Skies, Chicago Injury Attorneys Blog, Aug. 18, 2016

Photo credit: Luis David Sanchez at Wikimedia Commons.