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The Charlotte Observer - January 6, 2006

Lawsuit Settled in ’99 Concord Airplane Crash

By Victoria Cherrie and Gary L. Wright
The Charlotte Observer

4 companies to pay $26 million to kin of couple that was killed

A $26 million settlement has been reached in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of David and Ann Drye of Concord, who died in a 1999 plane crash after taking off from Concord Regional Airport.

The settlement, paid by four companies, is believed to be the largest in a wrongful death suit in N.C. history, said Ertel Berry, legal editor for N.C. Lawyers Weekly. Berry publishes an annual list of the state’s largest verdicts and settlements.

“Our clients believe justice was served,” said Gary Robb, the family’s Kansas City, Mo. attorney. “They hope now to move on with their lives.”

Just after the plane took off for Anderson, S.C., pilot Kelly Ward radioed to controllers that the plane’s right engine was failing.

The suit claimed the engine failure caused the Dryes’ Cessna 421 to crash into a wooded area in Mecklenburg County, about three miles from the airport. The Dryes survived the initial crash but died after the plane caught fire, Robb said.

Ward and Mark Carlson, a vice president in David Drye’s Concord development firm, also died.

The Dryes’ children sued Teledyne Continental Motors, which made the airplane’s engines; Vibratech Inc., maker of an engine component; Stevens Aviation, which had provided services to the aircraft; and RAM Aircraft, which had overhauled it.

The suit, initially filed in Cabarrus County, was later transferred to Mecklenburg. A settlement was reached in October, Robb said.

It’s taken attorneys until now to prepare the paperwork to make the announcement, he said.

Attorneys representing Teledyne and RAM Aircraft could not be reached Thursday. Paul Reichs, the attorney representing Stevens Aviation, confirmed his client paid $250,000 toward the settlement but declined comment.

Brad Kutrow, who represents Vibratech, said his client was the last to settle and is now trying to recover from Teledyne the $2.8 million it paid to settle.

Record Settlement

Amounts paid toward settlement of the David and Ann Drye wrongful death suit, according to court documents:

Teledyne Continental Motors: $20 million
RAM Aircraft: $3 million
Vibratech Inc.: $2.8 million
Stevens Aviation: $250,000

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