Kansas City
Over $1 Billion in Verdicts and Recoveries
‘Unfortunate’ Legal Necessity
Charles Emerick Staff writer
The Daily Record

A Kansas City attorney with a history of success in aviation lawsuits has been hired to represent the families involved in three deadly aircraft crashes this year.

Gary C. Robb filed two wrongful death suits last week – one in Missouri and another in Iowa. And in February, he filed one in Illinois. The three crashes resulted in 10 deaths.

Robb, who settled two other aircraft crash cases for combined $64 million earlier this year, has already visited all three crash sites and attended wreckage inspections.

“It’s unfortunate,” Robb said. “It’s not like you can say, 'I’m going to take on one new case every three months,' You’ve got to serve your clients when you’re needed.”

It normally takes three to five years to complete one case, he said.

Vivian and Susan Delacroix filed the most recent lawsuit. Their daughter, Victoria, died when the plane she was riding in experienced engine failure and crashed on July 29 near Sullivan, a town about 70 miles southwest of St. Louis. The case was filed Aug. 2 in Franklin County Circuit Court.

Roland Schlotzhauer died when the helicopter in which he was a passenger stuck a power line and crashed into a cornfield in Walford, Iowa, on June 30. His wife, Kathryn, who is represented by Gary C. Robb, filed a wrongful death lawsuit in Polk County Oiwa last week. Schlotzhauer was shooting film for the movie “The Final Season” when the crash occurred.

According to court documents, the 1967 DeHavilland HGC-6 Twin Otter airplane began to have engine problems shortly after takeoff. A witness reported seeing the aircraft’s right engine burst into flames.

The plane descended, struck a utility pole and landed nose-first into a tree less than 10 feet from a house. Delacroix and five others onboard, including the pilot, died. Two others were injured.
The group went up in the plane to skydive.

“It was to be her first jump,” Robb said.

Defendants in the lawsuit are United Technologies and its parent company, Pratt & Whitney, the manufacturer of the airplane’s engine. Others named include Quantum Leap Skydiving Center, the operator of the plane; Adventure Aviation, which serviced the plane; the estate of Scott Cowan, pilot of the plane and co-owner of Quantum Leap; and the Sullivan Regional Airport.

Robb said Delacroix’s parents, who live in Kent, England, were referred to him by J. Scott Brown, counsel to the British Consulate-General in the United States.

“Gary Robb’s track record in air crash cases is rather remarkable,” Brown said in a statement.
Delacroix, 22, had been staying with a family in Dittmer at the time of the accident.

Kathryn Schlotzhauer also filed a wrongful death suit on Aug. 2. Schlotzhauer filed her case in Polk County Circuit Court in Iowa.

Schlotzhauer’s husband, Roland, 50, was killed while shooting film for a movie from a helicopter on June 30. As the 1980 Bell Jet Ranger helicopter flew, it struck a set of power lines, causing it to crash into a corn field in Benton County about one mile west of Walford, Iowa. He was working the movie “The Final Season” about a championship high school baseball team.

“The production company should have surveyed the scene of the filming in advance,” Robb said.

“They would have then been able to detect that there was a power line. That’s primarily the production company’s fault because they arranged for the pilot.”

The lawsuit lists 19 defendants, including Ritel Copter Service and its owner, Richard Green, and the movie’s producer, Anthony H. Wilson.

In the third case, Lisa Waugh filed a suit Feb. 8 after her husband, Michael, 37, died Jan. 30 in a crash near Chicago. The plane, which departed from Olathe, crashed as it prepared for landing.

According to the plaintiff’s petition, the 1974 Cessna began to spiral downward as it approached for landing at the Palwaukee Municipal Airport in Wheeling, Ill. The aircraft then slammed nose down into a construction storage lot. Three passengers and the pilot died.

Robb said the plane suffered left engine power loss before the crash, and there was pilot error.
“When the plane hit the ground it left rotational scoring from the propeller on the right engine,” he said, “but there was non on the left so that engine wasn’t working.”

All three suits seek damages for the deaths that include past and future lost income and pain and suffering.

The plaintiffs also claim damages for what Robb called “pre-impact terror,” or the conscious pain suffered by the victims before their deaths.

“You’re life flashes before your eyes,” Robb said. “When you know for certain that death is immanent – when you know you’re going to die in 30 seconds – that’s a horrible sensation.”

The Cases

Case Name: Lisa A. Waugh, et al v. Teledyne Industries, et al
Case Number: 06L140X
Court: Cook County (Illinois) Circuit Court
Type of Action: Wrongful Death
Plaintiffs’ Attorneys: Gary C. Robb of Robb & Robb; Dale E. Bennett of the Law Office of Dale E. Bennett in Westwood, Kan; and Richard F. Mallen of Richard F. Mallen & Associates in Chicago

Case Name: Vivian Delacroix, et al v. United Technologies, et al
Case Number: 06AB-CC00233
Court: Franklin County Circuit Court, Division 1
Type of Action: Wrongful Death
Plaintiffs’ Attorneys: Gary C. Robb and Anita Porte Robb of Robb & Robb

Case Name: Kathryn L. Schlotzhauer v. Ritel Copter Service, et al
Case Number: 05771 LACL102824
Court: Polk County (Iowa) Circuit Court
Type of Action: Wrongful Death
Plaintiffs’ Attorneys: Gary C. Robb of Robb & Robb; Stephen B. Millin Jr. of Stephen B. Millin Jr. P.C.; and Steven V. Lawyer of Steven V. Lawyer & Associates in Des Moines, Iowa.


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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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