Over $975 Million in Verdicts and Recoveries Over $975 Million in Verdicts and Recoveries
Suit in Fatal AZ Chopper Crash Faults Rotor Blade
BOB CHRISTIE
Associated Press
5/13/2010

PHOENIX (AP) -- A helicopter crash that killed five people north of Phoenix in February was caused by a rotor blade that came apart in midair, according to a lawsuit filed by the pilot's family.

One of the rotor blades on the Eurocopter EC135 piloted by John "Rick" Morton of Seattle had been repeatedly repaired prior to the Feb. 14 crash, attorney Gary C. Robb of Kansas City, Mo., said Thursday.

He filed the suit on behalf of Morton's wife, Charlotte Morton, and adult daughter, Brenda Morton, both of the Seattle area.

Morton, 63, was piloting the personal aircraft of executive Thomas J. Stewart, owner of Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Services Group of America, one of the nation's largest foodservice distributors. Stewart, his wife, young daughter and brother-in-law were also killed.

An official cause for the crash hasn't been determined by federal investigators, but mechanical failure was suspected from the day of the crash because witnesses saw pieces flying off the aircraft just before it went down.

The helicopter was taking Stewart and his family back to Scottsdale after a weekend at his ranch near Flagstaff.

The lawsuit filed in Maricopa County Superior Court in Phoenix names the mechanic who did the repairs, Robert Starr of Seattle, his company, Cascade Airframe Repair Inc., the previous owner of the helicopter and the manufacturer, Eurocopter.

Starr wasn't immediately available for comment at his business, and a call seeking comment from Eurocopter wasn't immediately returned.

The Eurocopter has a fine safety record, Robb said, and there is no indication that there is a bigger problem with the popular copter, which is used by many law enforcement and news agencies.

But one of the main rotor blades on the crashed aircraft had been damaged after flying through a thunderstorm and had extensive repairs by both Eurocopter and Cascade, Robb said.

Robb, who has represented clients in helicopter crashes for nearly 30 years, said he believes a crack developed along the leading edge of the rotor blade and it expanded and led to a separation or in-flight fracture.

Morton was a U.S. Army veteran, served in Vietnam and had accumulated more than 11,000 flight hours in the past 30 years. He had been Stewart's personal pilot for many years, and the day he was killed was his 38th wedding anniversary.

"This was just devastating to his wife and his family," Robb said. "I think people who knew Tom Stewart knew that he only hired the very best, and the flight experience of this pilot in particular, John Morton, was extensive.

Stewart, 64, joined his father's Seattle-based port support business in the late 1960s and expanded it into insurance and food distribution, fruit packing and retailing. After spinning off some subsidiaries, he moved the company to Arizona in 2006.




« Back to News & Media

The firm's lawyers are proud to be members of:
Telephone: 816-474-8080
Facsimile: 816-474-8081
TollFree: 1-800-474-1339
Nationwide practice in states including:
Alabama
Arkansas
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Illinois
Iowa
Kentucky
Minnesota
Missouri
Nebraska
Nevada
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
Ohio
Oklahoma
Pennsylvania
Tennessee
Wisconsin

Personal Injury Lawyers - Kansas City, Missouri

Personal injury is an area of law that pertains to the injury of an individual. Both physical and emotional injuries fall into this branch of tort law. A personal injury lawyer is generally involved in cases where an injury has occurred due to the negligence of another party.

Examples of cases that a personal injury lawyer in Kansas City, Missouri can assist with include workplace accidents, falling or other accidents in the home, premises liability, defective and hazardous product cases, and dental and medical malpractice cases. If negligence on behalf of another party can be proved in court, compensation may be awarded.

Personal injury attorneys can also assist with industrial disease cases that may include respiratory diseases or a decline in health due to hazardous occupational conditions. These and other medical cases are often very complex, and it is advised that all aspects of the claim be handled by an experienced attorney.

Wrongful Death Lawyers - Kansas City, Missouri

Wrongful death falls under the common law jurisdictions wherein a person may be held liable for a death. It is important to note that wrongful death is the only course of legal action in which a company, rather than an individual, is at fault for a death.

In Kansas City, Missouri, cases involving wrongful death accidents require a preponderance of evidence as the standard of proof. Generally, the suit is filed by close relatives.

This web site is designed for general information only. The information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship. Past results afford no guarantee of future results. Every case is different and must be judged on its own merits.

Robb & Robb LLC One Kansas City Place, Suite 3900 - 1200 Main Street , Kansas City , Missouri 64105

Telephone: 816-474-8080 Facsimile: 816-474-8081 Toll Free: 1-800-474-1339