Kansas City
Over $1 Billion in Verdicts and Recoveries
Lawyers Prevail in Appeal Over $52.5 Million Plane Crash Award
by Jennifer Mann
Missouri Lawyers Weekly

It took seven years, but the families of the victims who died in a 2006 skydiving plane crash finally received their $52.5 million.

Kansas City husband-and-wife team Gary C. Robb and Anita P. Robb, of law firm Robb & Robb, are the lawyers behind the wrongful death lawsuit, Victoria Delacroix, et al Plaintiffs v. Doncasters Inc.

Their victory came in May, when, in a 9-3 decision, the Missouri Court of Appeals for the Eastern District overturned an earlier 2-1 panel decision and reinstated $28 million in punitive damages to the families.

Doncasters Inc. is the Britain-based conglomerate that manufactured an after-market blade for the right engine of the De Havilland Twin Otter skydiving plane.

In October, it paid the families the $28 million in punitive damages plus $4.5 million in interest, along with the $20 million in compensatory damages a Franklin County jury had awarded them.

The lawsuit was filed in 2006 after the July 29, 2006, plane crash in Sullivan, about 70 miles southwest of St. Louis.

Moments after takeoff, the right engine exploded into flames. Witnesses on the ground said the plane then skimmed the treetops shortly before it crashed. Six of eight people aboard died, with Robb & Robb representing the families of five victims.

During trial, evidence was presented showing Doncasters had used inferior materials to make the replacement blade in the right engine of the Twin Otter. The lawsuit also alleged that the company hid what it did from federal agencies overseeing and approving replacement parts for aircraft in the U.S.

The jury agreed with the plaintiffs, returning the original $48 million verdict.

Doncasters filed a post-trial motion alleging adequate evidence didn’t exist that it had actual knowledge of the defect when it sold the part. The trial judge agreed and overturned the $28 million punitive award.

The decision was appealed to the Missouri Court of Appeals for the Eastern District, and a three judge panel upheld the trial judge 2-1.

Judge Glen Norton dissented, writing: “Plaintiffs presented sufficient evidence from which a reasonable juror could find, with convincing clarity, that Doncasters had actual knowledge of the defective conditions of the CT-blades at the time they were sold and that Doncasters acted with complete indifference to or conscious disregard for the safety of others.”

The plaintiffs then appealed to the full court, which ruled 9-3 ruling in favor of the plaintiffs, agreeing with Norton’s dissent.

The Robbs say they heard through their sources in the aviation industry that Doncasters had taken the blade implicated in the plane crash off the market.

“That perhaps, was most gratifying to the clients,” Gary C. Robb says. “To know that another family was not going to have to suffer what they had been through.”

Anita P. Robb, nodding her head in agreement, added, “This was a very tragic situation, and I do believe that the families feel that, finally, justice was done.”

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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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