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Untreated Crohn’s Disease Blamed for Child’s Death: Jury awards Plaintiffs estate 1.7 Million in damages

A Cook County jury returned a verdict in excess of $1.7 million in favor of the Estate of a 10-year-old girl who died in the early morning hours of November 13, 2002, just five days after seeing a local pediatrician at Advocate Health Centers, Inc., with complaints of periodic rectal bleeding for about one year, abdominal pain, vomiting, fatigue, and a bloody watery bowel movement that day.

The 10-year-old girl had been complaining of loose stools, vomiting, streaks of blood with nearly every bowel movement for the last year, and periodic abdominal pain. On November 8, 2002, after having a bloody, watery bowel movement, her mother called the pediatrician and rushed her to their office at the Advocate Health Center in Hyde Park to discuss what she believed were serious symptoms with the doctor. The pediatrician noted all of these symptoms in his chart in addition to noting that the child had an unexpected weight loss of thirteen pounds over the last few months. The pediatrician ordered blood studies and a stool culture and sent the child home with instructions to drink clear liquids.

A few days later, the lab tests were reviewed by the pediatrician and he diagnosed the child with mononucleosis. He confirmed this diagnosis in his chart as well as in a telephone message left for the child’s mother. In the meantime, however, in the early morning hours of November 13, 2002, the child collapsed. She was rushed to Trinity Hospital and transferred to Hope Children’s Hospital where notations were made that she had a gastrointestinal bleed and had blood coming from her rectum. Efforts to resuscitate her failed and she died in the hospital soon thereafter. The Cook County Medical Examiner reported the cause of death to be a massive gastrointestinal hemorrhage due to an inflammatory bowel disease known specifically as Crohn’s Disease.

At trial, the attorney for the Estate, Paul R. Borth of Nolan Law Group, presented evidence that, at the time of her single office visit with the local pediatrician, the child presented with the classic signs and symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease and the pediatrician should have referred the child to a pediatric gastroenterologist or admitted her to the hospital for diagnosis and treatment. Stephanie L. Stalter of Nolan Law Group also represented the Estate at trial.

“The pediatrician knew he could not diagnose or treat inflammatory bowel disease, so he should have sent the child to a specialist who could. This child could have survived if she had been referred to a pediatric gastroenterologist for prompt evaluation and treatment,” Mr. Borth stated.

The defense denied liability at trial and argued that referral to a gastrointestinal specialist or admittance to the hospital was unwarranted and that the blood tests and stool culture ordered by the pediatrician were the appropriate first steps in forming a plan for this child’s care. Defense experts, including a world renowned pediatric gastroenterologist from the University of Chicago who has been practicing in the field for over thirty years, and a professor of gastrointestinal pathology from the University of Chicago, opined that they had never seen a death from a gastrointestinal hemorrhage due to Crohn’s Disease, none had been reported in medical literature, and the autopsy results and independent review of pathology slides failed to demonstrate any signs of inflammatory bowel disease or Crohn’s Disease.

The defense and its experts argued instead that the child died from an acute bacterial stomach infection which came on sometime after the child’s November 8 visit with the pediatrician but before her demise on November 13. The defense called the Chief of the Division of Infectious Disease at Children’s Memorial Hospital who testified that this infection killed her within 24-36 hours and there was no indication that inflammatory bowel disease had anything to do with the child’s untimely demise. James W. Kopriva and Trisha K. Tesmer from Cassiday Schade, LLP, represented the local pediatrician and Advocate Health Centers, Inc.

The plaintiff contended that the child’s symptoms were the classic symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease, as admitted by the defense experts. “This case was won by obtaining concessions from the defendants’ experts,” said Mr. Borth. “No one could deny that this child presented to the pediatrician with these classic signs and symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease at that November 8 visit. The question for the jury was whether that single visit to the pediatrician was enough to prompt a referral to a gastrointestinal specialist and whether some intervening infection was the cause of this catastrophe.”
On February 26, 2010, the jury awarded $1,706.125.48 to the Estate of the child for loss of society, and medical and funeral expenses. The jury reportedly found the local pediatrician negligent for failure to refer the child to a pediatric gastroenterologist on November 8, 2002.

The Honorable James P. Flannery, Jr., presided over the trial. No. 06 L 7302.

Two Dead In Royal Air Freight Plane Crash Near Chicago Executive Airport

WHEELING, Illinois – A Learjet on final approach to the Chicago Executive Airport in northwest suburban Wheeling crashed into the Des Plaines River Tuesday January 5th killing both the pilot and co-pilot.

The small cargo plane was registered to Michigan-based Royal Air Cargo and was empty at the time of the accident. The flight left Waterford, Michigan around 1: 00 p.m. and had been hired to pick up a load in Wheeling, Illinois later that afternoon.

Emergency personnel arrived on the scene shortly after the accident and had to travel on-foot to reach the wreckage, which was submerged in about four feet of water. Authorities from several neighboring communities — Wheeling, Mount Prospect and others — sent crews to the scene of the crash. Members of the National Transportation Safety Board arrived around 4 p.m. and said the investigation would begin Wednesday morning.

Royal Air is a family run business which owns and operates both passenger aircraft and cargo planes. They have approximately two dozen aircraft and are no stranger to regulatory scrutiny, accidents and operational violations. In 1999, a Royal Air aircraft was involved in a crash in Pittsfield, Mass., which has some similarities to Tuesday’s accident. On March 25, 1999, a Royal Air plane plummeted almost 12,000 feet in less than a minute before hitting the ground. In both accidents there were sudden losses of communication just before the planes crashed. Pilot Brian Templeton, of Waterford, Mich., was killed in the 1999 accident.

A lawsuit related to the 1999 accident accident was filed by Nolan Law Group on behalf of the family of pilot Brian Templeton. According to the lawsuit, Royal Air Freight.was negligent in performing maintenance on the aircraft, autopilot and de-icing system and in supplying information to support an alternate means of compliance for an MU-2 Airworthiness Directive. Other Defendants include Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Honeywell and Mid-Continent Instruments.

Royal Air was also sued by federal authorities in 1999 for cutting corners on engine maintenance and inspections. Violations listed in the lawsuit included failure to conduct scheduled inspections of engines, propellers and wing flaps and failure to produce maintenance records. The company ultimately agreed to pay $250,000 in fines for maintenance and record-keeping violations as part of an agreement with the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan. Less than a year later, the FAA proposed $60,000 in additional fines against Royal Air for allegedly failing to investigate the backgrounds of 13 newly hired pilots.

American Airlines Flight 331 Likely a Preventable Accident

The December 22 American Airlines Flight 331 accident that injured more than 90 passengers has left numerous questions unanswered. However, even before the National Transportation Safety Board determines a probable cause for this accident, two things are clear from the initial reports: we are fortunate that, in light of the circumstances, the injuries sustained were not catastrophic; and, more troubling, this scenario was likely entirely preventable.

2009 has proven an interesting year for airline pilots and the flying public. In January, we witnessed the heroism of Captain Sullenberger averting disaster and gracefully landing US Airways Flight 1545 in the Hudson River. Cockpit voice recordings reveal a calm and measured reaction to a bird strike, as well as a calculated decision to land the plane in the Hudson. His professionalism, training, experience and judgment prepared him to successfully and artfully land a plane under trying circumstances.

A mere month later, Continental Air Flight 3407, operated by Colgan Air, crashed into a house during approach near Buffalo, NY, killing all 49 passengers and crew as well as one person the ground. Unlike Captain Sully, the pilots operating this regional flight were sleep deprived, sick, distracted and flying in inclement weather. They lacked sufficient training and resources, and were thus unqualified to be flying a plane under those circumstances.

In October, two Northwest pilots missed their destination by over 150 miles and failed to respond to air traffic controller attempts to reach them. The pilots claimed they “lost situational awareness” because they were distracted, reviewing a new company policy on a laptop. Speculation surrounding this incident has focused heavily on the theory that the pilots were in fact sleeping, again highlighting the issue of pilot fatigue.

Which brings me to the events of Tuesday night in Jamaica. The facts as they unfold have many similarities – both from an operational standpoint, as well as the aircraft type and runway environment – to Southwest Flight 1248 overran its runway in December 2005. In the Southwest accident investigation, the NTSB looked at factors such as decision to land, calculation of landing distance on a contaminated runway, company braking procedures, as well as pilot training.

Reports indicate that Tuesday’s flight in Jamaica had sufficient fuel to return to Miami, yet decided to land on the contaminated runway rather than turn around. The pilots were near timing out for their flight hours for the day, which raises the possibility of pilot fatigue impacting their decision-making process and their operation of the aircraft. Was the decision to land made based on the safety of the passengers or – considering the pressure of holiday travel, passenger frustration, pilot fatigue and cost – did the pilots decide that the safety risk was worth it?

The numerous accidents and incidents of 2009 raise serious questions about what is going on in the cockpit. The over arching question is a serious one: during these economic times, is aviation industry creating a culture of undervaluing risk to save money?

Make no mistake, there are numerous technical issues that may have contributed to the scenario that unfolded on Tuesday night, as well as the lack of preventative measures that could have mitigated damages. Moreover, the risk of human error is everpresent, and for that reason we must advocate also for additional safety measure that minimize the impact of such errors. Nonetheless, the events and mistakes outlined above are not discrete individual incidents; rather, they are evidence of a deteriorating safety culture. We are entrusting the safety of passengers to tired, overworked, and often under paid pilots who have insufficient training and distractions in the cockpit. Congress must act to ensure that the business interests of airlines do not outweigh the safety of our passengers. In 2009, Captain Sullenberger’s “Miracle on the Hudson” was an exception in a year fraught with serious safety hazards. But the reality is, he was not lucky – he was prepared. In 2010, let’s make his example the rule.

Kingston weather poor at time of American 737 overrun

While details on the American Airlines Boeing 737-800 overrun at Kingston remain sketchy, meteorological data shows poor weather conditions during arrival.

American’s timetable shows flight AA331’s scheduled arrival time is 21:10, but the carrier says the aircraft landed at 21:22CST, equating to 22:22 local.

Meteorological information from Norman Manley International Airport indicated heavy rain and possible thunderstorm activity at this time.

The airport has a single runway, designated 12/30, which has a length of 2,716m (8,910ft) but its virtually-offshore location – on a thin strip of land south of Jamaica – leaves little overrun margin at either end.

There is no confirmation of which runway the aircraft was using. While there is an instrument landing system for runway 12, the weather data indicates that this would have required landing with a tail wind.

NOTAM information, dated today, shows that the airport has restated the runway distances available to aircraft, and introduced a displaced threshold on runway 30.

American states that two of the 148 passengers were admitted to hospital for observation, but all others have been released. The jet, arriving from Miami, was also carrying a crew of six.

Damage to the 737 is substantial. Its fuselage has fractured aft of the wing, its right-hand CFM International CFM56 engine has separated and the left wing-tip has snapped.

By David Kaminski-Morrow

Plane overshoots Jamaica runway; more than 40 hurt

KINGSTON, Jamaica – An American Airlines flight carrying 154 people skidded across a Jamaican runway in heavy rain, bouncing across the tarmac and injuring more than 40 people before it stopped just short of the Caribbean Sea, officials and witnesses said.

Jamaica Flight Overshoots Runway

Workers sift through debris surrounding the fuselage of American Airlines flight AA331 which crash landed overnight on a flight from Miami to Jamaica, just beyond the runway of Norman Manley International Airport, in Kingston Jamaica, Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2009. More than 40 people were injured, at least 4 seriously, and there were no fatalities, according to officials, after the plane overshot the runway in Jamaica when it landed in heavy rain

Panicked passengers screamed and baggage burst from overhead bins as Flight 331 from Miami careened down the runway in the capital, Kingston, on Tuesday night, one passenger said.

The impact cracked the fuselage, crushed the left landing gear and separated both engines from the Boeing 737-800, airline spokesman Tim Smith said.

Crews evacuated dazed and bloodied passengers onto a beach from a cabin that smelled of smoke and jet fuel, passengers said. Rain poured through the plane’s broken roof, one said.

Some 44 people were taken to hospitals with broken bones and back pains and four were seriously hurt, airport and Jamaican government officials said. American Airlines said two people were admitted to the hospital and nobody suffered life-threatening injuries.

Heavy turbulence on the way to Jamaica had forced the crew to halt the beverage service three times before giving up, Pilar Abaurrea of Keene, New Hampshire, told The Associated Press by phone. The pilot warned of more turbulence just before landing but said it likely wouldn’t be much worse, she said.

“All of a sudden, when it hit the ground, the plane was kind of bouncing. Someone said the plane was skidding and there was panic,” she said.

U.S. investigators will analyze whether the plane should have been landing in such bad weather, Smith said, adding that other planes had landed safely in the heavy rain.

Passenger Natalie Morales Hendricks told NBC’s “Today” that the plane began to skid upon landing and “before I knew it, everything was black and we were crashing.”

“Everybody’s overhead baggage started to fall. Literally, it was like being in a car accident. People were screaming, I was screaming,” she said.

“There was smoke and debris everywhere,” after the plane halted, she said. “It was a mess. Everybody could smell jet fuel.”

Passenger Robert Mais told The Gleaner newspaper of Jamaica that he had heard the engine’s reverse throttle but that the plane didn’t seem to slow as it skittered down the runway.

The plane came to a halt about 10 to 15 feet (3 to 5 meters) from the Caribbean Sea and passengers walked along the beach to be picked up by a bus, Mais said. Rain came through the roof of the darkened jet and baggage from the overhead compartments was strewn about the cabin, he said.

The plane originated at Reagan National Airport in Washington and took off from Miami International Airport at 8:52 p.m. and arrived in Kingston at 10:22 p.m. It was carrying 148 passengers and a crew of six, American said. The majority of those aboard were Jamaicans coming home for Christmas, Jamaican Information Minister Daryl Vaz said.

Smith said there were two “significant” cracks in the fuselage, and the engines are designed to separate from the wings during an accident as a safety measure.

A team of six investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board was traveling to Jamaica from Washington on Wednesday morning to assist a probe led by the island’s government, agency spokesman Keith Holloway said.

The airport reopened early Wednesday after officials had delayed flights because of concerns that the plane’s tail might be hindering visibility.

Four hundred passengers waited for their flights to be cleared for takeoff, Security Minister Dwight Nelson told Radio Jamaica.

Heavy rains that have pelted Jamaica’s eastern region for four days are expected to dissipate by Thursday. Authorities said the rains washed away a 7-year-old girl on Tuesday and led to a bus crash in which two people died.

By KIRK WRIGHT, Associated Press

Associated Press Writers Danica Coto and Ben Fox in San Juan, Puerto Rico; Howard Campbell in Kingston, Jamaica; Carol Druga in Atlanta, Georgia; and Sofia Mannos in Washington contributed to this report.

The Legacy of Flight 4184

(CHICAGO) (WLS) — Saturday marks 15 years since the crash of American Eagle Flight 4184 near Roselawn, Indiana.

The disaster claimed 68 lives and changed the aviation landscape.

In the aftermath of 4184, we learned a great deal about the science of freezing rain and an entire fleet of aircraft not well suited to fly in it. We learned about warnings that went unheeded, and air traffic control procedures that would forever change. That was the technical stuff. Now we look back at the human factor.

On a quiet county road just south of Roselawn stand 68 crosses. Each bears the name of a life lost when Flight 4184 crashed into a soybean field a stone’s throw away.

The Super ATR aircraft had been in a holding pattern for O’Hare. The pilots were unaware of a deadly ice build-up that would cause the plane to roll and plunge to earth. There was little left of the plane and passengers.

Victims’ relatives- deep in grief and hungry for information could get little – from the airline or the government.

“Flight 4184 exemplified not only the tragic nature, but the utter confusion that existed during that time period,” said Don Nolan, aviation law attorney.

The pilot’s wife waited days for her husband’s employer just to call her. Airline care teams visited victims’ families and asked about their dead relatives medical histories.

Some of the unidentifiable human remains were laid to rest in a nearby cemetery. The airline conducted a service, but didn’t tell the families.

“I was angry, I was upset,” said Terri Severin.

Terri Severin lost her sister and her four year old nephew – the only child on the flight. Four months after the crash, Terri summoned the courage to go to the site. She was numbed by what she found.

“I actually walked away with bags full of plane wreckage, personal effects and human remains that were still just scattered at the site,” said Severin.

Those discoveries – plane parts, body parts four months later – became, for the relatives, the ultimate indignity.

“There were unspeakable things that occurred,” said Jim Hall.

Fifteen years ago, Hall was the chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board. The NTSB’s singular mission then was to find out what went wrong, and to make recommendations so it doesn’t happen again. But the families? That’s for somebody else.

“I was told this isn’t your business, and I said, ‘well my goodness. If I’m being paid by the taxpayers and we’re the agency that responds to these tragedies, it has to be our business,'” said Hall.

Hall wanted change. The families of 4184 demanded it, and in concert with families from other airline crashes, they pushed for it.

Two years later, the Aviation Disaster Family Assistance Act was signed into law.

Today when there is a disaster, the NTSB immediately takes the lead in dealing with the needs of families from information to crash site access.

“Today, the airlines are obligated to have a disaster plan in place. Those types of plans didn’t exist 15 years ago,” said Hall.

There are now protocols for airline employee training, grief counseling, the handling of remains and the return of personal effects.

“I am still healing and it will probably be a life long journey,” said Severin.

Terry Severin has written a book and lectures on what happened after 4184. She says she learned long ago that corporations and government are not fail-safe resources in the wake of disaster.

“But I have learned that the average citizen can make a difference in turning a negative response into a positive outcome,” said Severin.

This Saturday, Terri and other 4184 relatives will return to the memorial, as they do every year, to remember, to celebrate 68 lives and, perhaps, to contemplate what’s changed since that tragic miserable night 15 years ago in a bean field just outside Roselawn, Indiana.

The NTSB’s family response model is now used internationally. But responses to disaster will always be imperfect.

Terri Severin one day opened a letter saying that the airline had some unclaimed personal effects from 4184. It turned out that a couple of her nephew’s toys were among them. Terri received that letter eight years after the crash.

For more information on Severin’s book, visit www.inthewakeofthestorm.com.

By Paul Meincke

El Tribunal De Apelación De Illinois Confirma La Solicitud De Declinatoria Del Tribunal De Primera Instancia En Relación Con El Accidente Aéreo De Tans Perú De 2005

CHICAGO, Illinois (15 de junio de 2009) – El día de hoy el Tribunal de Apelación de Illinois, Primer Distrito, ratificó una Orden dictada por el H. Juez William D. Maddux el pasado 5 de septiembre, la cual rechazó las solicitudes de declinatoria del demandado para desestimar los casos sobre la base de jurisdicción inadecuada.Las demandas originales fueron entabladas por Nolan Law Group en el Tribunal de Primera Instancia del Condado de Cook, Illinois, en representación del patrimonio de ciertos pasajeros que fueron víctimas de homicidio culposo, en contra de The Boeing Company y United Technologies Corporation, como resultado del accidente ocurrido el 23 de agosto de 2005 en el que un Boeing 737-200 operado por Transportes Aéreos Nacional de Selva (TANS) se estrelló en la selva a aproximadamente 5.5 km al sur del Aeropuerto de Pucallpa.

La aeronave transportaba a 98 pasajeros, de los cuales 40 perecieron y muchos otros resultaron gravemente heridos, lo que lo convirtió en uno de los peores desastres en la historia de la aviación peruana.

En respuesta a la apelación de la orden del H. Juez Maddux presentada por los demandados, el 29 de mayo de 2009 Nolan Law Group presentó alegatos y réplicas escritas al tribunal de apelación, que describían la incapacidad de los demandados para respaldar adecuadamente su argumento de que el Tribunal de Illinois era un foro inadecuado.

Durante los procedimientos, los abogados de Nolan Law Group adoptaron la posición de que los demandados no lograron demostrar circunstancias excepcionales que favorecieran la transferencia o sobreseimiento de los casos y que, debido a que la decisión de admitir o rechazar la solicitud de sobreseimiento basado en una jurisdicción inadecuada es a discreción del tribunal de primera instancia, un tribunal revisor tendría que confirmar dicha decisión, a menos que se demostrara un abuso de facultades discrecionales.

“Sin un abuso de facultades discrecionales, un desacuerdo entre las opiniones de los jueces no es comparable a demostrar la existencia de circunstancias excepcionales”, señaló Donald J. Nolan, abogado de Nolan Law Group.

Nolan Law Group argumentó que era correcto el equilibrio de factores en los intereses públicos y privados del tribunal de primera instancia para rechazar la solicitud de sobreseimiento de los demandados, y que no existía un abuso de facultades discrecionales. Asimismo, reiteró su argumento de que el contexto de responsabilidad derivada del producto requería tomar en cuenta todos los aspectos de la solicitud de jurisdicción inadecuada de los demandados.

Además, Nolan Law Group demostró por qué Perú no es un foro “disponible” para volver a presentar los casos señalando que ciertos principios jurisdiccionales existentes en países sudamericanos están en conflicto directo con la jurisprudencia de jurisdicción inadecuada de los Estados Unidos, incluyendo la aplicación inflexible del Código Bustamante.

Nolan Law Grup representa actualmente a clientes que han entablado demandas por homicidio culposo en contra de Boeing y United Technologies Corporation como resultado del accidente del 23 de agosto de 2005, y esta resolución favorable le permite proceder con los casos en su contra en el Tribunal de Primera Instancia del Condado de Cook, Illinois.

In English | En Espanól

Illinois Appellate Court Upholds Lower Court’s Denial Of Forum Non Conveniens Motion Arising Out Of The 2005 Tans Peru Plane Crash

CHICAGO, Illinois (June 15, 2009) – Today the Appellate Court of Illinois, First District affirmed a September 5, 2008 Order issued by Judge William D. Maddux which denied defendant’s motions to dismiss cases on the grounds of forum non conveniens.

The original lawsuits were filed by Nolan Law Group in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, on behalf of certain passenger’s estates who have filed wrongful death and survival actions against The Boeing Company and United Technologies Corporation as a result of the August 23, 2005 crash where a Boeing 737-200 operated by Transportes Aereos Nacional de Selva (TANS) crashed in the jungle about 5.5 km south of Pucallpa Airport.

The aircraft was carrying 98 passengers, of which 40 were killed and many others were seriously injured, making it one of the worst aviation disasters in Peruvian history.

On May 29, 2009 in response to the defendants’ appeal of Judge Maddux’s ruling, Nolan Law Group presented written and oral arguments to the appellate court which outlined the defendants’ failure to provide adequate support for their contention that the Illinois Court is an inconvenient forum.

During the proceedings, Nolan Law Group attorneys took the position that defendants failed to demonstrate exceptional circumstances favoring the transfer or dismissal of the cases and that since the decision to grant or deny a motion to dismiss based on forum non conveniens lies within the discretion of the trial court, a reviewing court would have to uphold the trial court’s decision unless abuse of discretion was demonstrated.

“Without an abuse of discretion, a disagreement between judges’ opinions is not tantamount to showing exceptional circumstances” said Nolan Law Group attorney Donald J. Nolan.

Nolan Law Group argued that the trial court’s balance of private and public interest factors to deny defendants’ motion to dismiss was correct and that there was no abuse of discretion. Nolan Law Group also reiterated its argument that the products liability context of the case guided consideration of all aspects of defendants’ forum non conveniens motion.

Additionally, Nolan Law Group demonstrated why Peru is not an “available” forum for re-filing the cases, citing that certain existing jurisdictional principals in South American countries are in direct conflict with American forum non conveniens jurisprudence, including Peru’s steadfast application of the Bustamente code.

Currently, Nolan Law Group represents clients who have filed wrongful death and survival actions against Boeing and United Technologies Corporation stemming from the August 23, 2005 accident. This favorable ruling allows Nolan Law Group to proceed with its cases against Boeing and United Technologies in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois.

In English | En Espanól

Jerome Skinner: System should be tweaked to further empower families

Continental Flight 3407, just like every aviation disaster, is a terrible tragedy for all who lost loved ones and for the Buffalo community in general. And like other air disasters, including the US Air Flight 427 crash near Pittsburgh and the Pan American Flight 103 bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland – it has given the families affected an opportunity to change the system and make family information and input much more important than it previously was.

It was out of the Pan Am 103 disaster that families became more aggressive in formally organizing and seeking involvement in post-accident investigative and fact-sharing activities. It was the long causal uncertainty of the investigation of Flight 427 that stirred the families to lobby for the Family Assistance Office concept put in place by the National Transportation Safety Board after the accident.

My law partner, Jim Hall, was chairman of the NTSB at the time and is thought of as the “father” of the Family Assistance Act. He believes that the office should consistently update the families and provide them with as much assistance as possible in understanding the investigative process.

This is the ideal. In reality it does not always function this way. I have worked in aviation litigation for almost 30 years and I share his opinion. No matter what the differences from family to family or accident to accident, the families always want to know why and how. They also want a voice.

A Buffalo News article seemed to come to grips with the fringes of the argument by dealing with the extreme claims that the system is so flawed that it is “intellectually dishonest,” or that the system is perfect from the viewpoint of the aviation industry that it represents. Neither is true.

Hall and I have a more useful suggestion, and one that will take the considerable muscle of the Flight 3407 families to implement. The existing party system will not be replaced. There are not enough investigators, testing laboratories or dollars to eliminate industry participation and make the system a truly independent process.

But the Office of Family Assistance must be called upon to provide families with consistent and complete information as the investigation is ongoing. This is already supposed to happen, but it will not unless the families demand it. The families could also call for the designation of a technically educated liaison to provide them information.

With that technical person in place, all that is needed is to “tweak” the system to give the families an opportunity to give the board input, offer suggestions and ask questions before the investigation goes into its analysis phase.

If the families ask for full information, a technical head to talk to and an opportunity to speak through that person before the process closes, it will be a big step that benefits all and ultimately enhances aviation safety in the future.

Confidential Settlement Reached in Product Liability Lawsuit From Fatal Helicopter Crash Involving Petros VII Pope and Patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church

On September 11, 2004, His Beatitude, Pope and Patriarch Petros VII, along with 16 others including his brother, clergy, lay members of the Orthodox Church, and the Greek Army crew perished when the helicopter they were aboard went out of control and crashed into the Aegean Sea approximately 15 nautical miles from the shoreline near Mt. Athos, Greece.


The helicopter used for the flight was a CH-47D, commonly known as the “Chinook” which was manufactured in 2001 by The Boeing Company and sold to the Greek Army as part of a U.S. Foreign Military Sales Agreement valued at over 300 million dollars.

The fateful flight departed the Pachi Megaron Army Airfield west of Athens at approximately 9:30 a.m. for a routine flight to the holy monasteries at Mt. Athos on the Chalkidiki peninsula. However, at approximately 10:53 a.m. local time, after the pilot requested clearance to an altitude of 4,500 feet, things began to go tragically wrong. The last six radar points beginning at 10:54 a.m. (see below) indicate that rather than continuing in a north northeast heading toward Mt. Athos, the helicopter began to take a slight left turn. This heading change was then followed by a loss of the transponder signal and a steep left turn and a final high-speed plunge into the ocean.

The recovery process was hampered by the sea’s depth and weather. Nevertheless, investigation into the accident revealed several anomalies with the helicopter which including illuminated caution lights on the maintenance panel without illumination of corresponding lights on the Master Caution Panel, significant damage to the aft rotor droop stops, DC power present in the aft section of the helicopter but absent in the cockpit, damage to gear teeth in the aft rotor drive system, and an over current in the A11 circuit card of the automatic flight control system (AFCS). Additionally, switch positions in the cockpit indicated the pilots were trying to isolate a hydraulic problem.

The diagram depicts the last six radar points recorded for the helicopter. The last three are from ground based radar following failure of the helicopter’s

The diagram depicts the last six radar points recorded for the helicopter. The last three are from ground based radar following failure of the helicopter’s transponder

This was to be the first official trip by Petros VII to the holy monasteries at Mt. Athos. He, a new-calendarist ecumenist, was reportedly traveling to the Monastery of Vatopedi to celebrate that Monday the Feast of the Deposition of the Precious Sash of the Mother of God according to the Old Calendar.

Nolan Law Group’s helicopter accident attorneys represented the estates of Patriarch Petros VII, his brother, Georgios Papapetrou, Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Carthage, and Hierodeacon Nektarios Kontogiorgis. The cases were settled during voluntary mediation conducted by Hon. Edward N. Cahn, retired Chief Judge of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Papapetrou v.The Boeing Company, et al., Case No. 07-cv-3768, E.D.Pa.

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