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$5.6 Million Settlement in Helicopter Death
By Jon Murray
The Indianapolis Star
5/30/2010

Money might seem like little consolation for two young children still struggling to understand their mother's death nearly two years after a medical helicopter crash in rural Indiana.

But attorneys who helped negotiate one of the largest settlements of its kind for an Indiana case say the payout will provide for their futures while holding the maker of the helicopter's flawed rotor blade accountable.

The deal with Bell Helicopter will set aside $5.6 million total in trust funds until Sandra Pearson's 11-year-old son and 9-year-old daughter turn 18.

The Avon flight nurse and two other crew members died in the August 2008 crash in a field outside Burney, about 40 miles southeast of Indianapolis.

They had just taken off in a Bell 206 chopper on a return flight to their home base in Rushville after attending a fundraising event for a local volunteer fire station.

Pearson, 38, was a single mother. Her children, Garrett and Gabrielle, have since moved to Decatur, Ill., to live with their father, Troy Pearson.

"They miss their mother," said Gary C. Robb, an aviation law attorney in Kansas City, Mo., who spoke on the family's behalf. "They keep asking, 'When is Mommy going to come back?' "

Robb has pressed dozens of similar lawsuits. Bell's willingness to settle this case, he said, "was a recognition that these children lost the most important thing in their lives. Everybody recognized this was an extremely sympathetic case."

Bell, based in Fort Worth, Texas, and owned by Textron, has admitted no wrongdoing in the settlement. The company's Indianapolis attorney, Jim Peterson, declined to comment, and an attempt to reach company officials Friday was not successful.

The settlement reflects a calculation of Pearson's unrealized earnings and the children's loss of her love and companionship.

Indiana juries have rarely awarded such large sums. For others that end in settlements before trial, comparisons are difficult because many include a confidentiality clause.

The National Bank of Indianapolis brought the wrongful death lawsuit on the children's behalf as the representative of Pearson's estate. A Hendricks County probate judge approved the settlement Wednesday, a final step necessary to resolve the lawsuit, which was filed in Marion Superior Court.

The plaintiff's attorneys say Bell failed to correct a manufacturing flaw in the main rotor blade, which broke apart, until it was too late.

The company issued an alert on the same helicopter model last year that referenced the Indiana crash and warned of the potential for fatigue cracks.

The other crash victims were pilot Roger Warren, 43, and paramedic and base manager Wade Weston, 38.




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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.

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