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Nolan Law News Articles

Nolan Law Group Settles Lion Air Cases with Boeing and Releases Recreation of Accident Flight

Following recent settlement of the lawsuits it filed on behalf of the families of several victims of the Lion Air Boeing MAX 8 crash, Nolan Law Group has released the video recreation of the accident flight.  The video, which depicts several engine and flight control parameters, belies the contention that the problem with the 737 MAX airplanes was simply angle of attack inputs to the MCAS.

© 2020 Nolan Law Group All Rights Reserved

Traumatic Brain Injury And PTSD Often Go Hand In Hand

Have you, or someone you love, experienced a traumatic brain injury? A traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs when the brain is harmed by blunt force trauma, such as from a fall or car accident, or by an object penetrating it. TBIs can be mild, moderate or severe and can cause minor to extensive impairment. If you have a TBI, you may experience changes in the way you see, hear, smell, touch or taste as well as changes in behavior, physical abilities and mood.

If you’ve experienced a TBI from an accident or violent event, you may also have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD can strike anyone who’s had a life-threating trauma; you can even have PTSD after a concussion. An event like an assault, a car crash or an emergency where you were afraid for your life or well-being — or afraid for someone you love — can trigger PTSD.




Symptoms of TBI and PTSD

According to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, a mild TBI or concussion can cause symptoms including:

  • Blurred vision
  • Brief loss of consciousness (from several seconds to minutes)
  • Changes in mood or behavior
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Nausea/ vomiting
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Trouble with memory, concentration or thinking

A more serious TBI can produce:

  • Confusion, restlessness or agitation
  • Convulsions or seizures
  • Loss of coordination
  • Persistent or worsening headaches
  • Repeated vomiting/nausea
  • Slurred speech

Symptoms of PTSD include:

  • Experiencing repeated memories and/or flashbacks of the event
  • Avoiding people, places or things that may remind you of the event
  • Feeling emotionally numb and detached from people, even those close to you
  • Feeling ashamed or guilty about what happened to you
  • Feeling anxious or worried about possible threats, even when no danger is present

If you have a TBI or PTSD, you’re more likely to suffer from depression and sleep problems and you’re at higher risk of substance abuse and physical injuries. Having both TBI and PTSD, such as when you have PTSD from a concussion, increases your risk of all of these conditions. The severity of your symptoms may vary from person to person, depending on the injury and what part of the brain was affected.

When You Have TBI and PTSD

Treatment for TBI depends on the severity of the injury but may include:

  • Rest, especially with minor TBIs
  • Emergency treatment to stabilize and protect the brain, which may include surgery in more severe cases
  • Medications, including anticonvulsants, blood thinners and anti-depressants
  • Rehabilitation therapy, if necessary, to help restore lost function

Treatment for PTSD may include:

  • Medications such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors
  • Psychotherapy, including cognitive behavior therapy (CBT)

When PTSD and brain damage occur together, your health care team may use a combination of medication, therapy and rehabilitation to treat your symptoms. If you have PTSD and a brain injury, you should plan on working closely with your health care team to create a treatment plan to help you heal and recover from these conditions. Be open about your symptoms and their impact on you and don’t be afraid to ask family members and friends for extra support when you need it.

Have you or someone you love suffered a traumatic brain injury that was the fault of someone else? Consider talking to an attorney who specializes in these kinds of injuries. Contact Nolan Law Group to learn more about how we may be able to help you.

Multi-Plaintiff Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed in Philippine Mall Fire Tragedy: American Polling Company’s Practices Implicated in Cause of Deaths

(Chicago, December 19, 2019) Survey Sampling International, now known as Dynata, is being sued for the wrongful deaths of 29 employees of its Philippine affiliate, SSI Philippines, arising from a December 23, 2017 fire in the New City Commercial Center (NCCC) in Davao City, Philippines.  The employees were part of a group of 38 young people who were trapped and unable to exit the fourth (top) floor of the building, allegedly due to dangerous working conditions specified in the lawsuit.  All of those trapped ultimately died from asphyxia by suffocation according to medical certifications.

The business practices of the US-based Dynata are alleged to have contributed to this tragedy. According to the complaint, Dynata outsourced telephone polling to a call center it operated and controlled in the Philippines in order to lower operational costs and to maximize profit.  The complaint further alleges that in those efforts to maximize profit, Dynata and its Philippine affiliate neglected the safety and well-being of the victims.

Specifically, the complaint alleges that the 4th floor was not equipped with a working fire alarm, that the 4th floor was not connected to the fire alarm systems on floors 1-3; there were only two fire exits for the 4th floor which were inadequate for the number of people working in the space; one of the two exits was obstructed by steel lockers placed there; the two exit doors were in an open position allowing them to serve as a path for smoke and gas into the 4th floor;  and fire dampers were not installed that would have prevented the rapid spread of gas and smoke to the 4th floor.

Donald J. Nolan and Thomas P. Routh of Chicago-based Nolan Law Group, along with attorney James L. Sullivan of the Connecticut firm of Howard, Kohn, Sprague & Fitzgerald filed the lawsuit today in the Hartford Superior Court. Mr. Nolan noted that “practices such as these endanger foreign workers, as they value profit over human rights and necessities. To corporate executives, they only see numbers and output, bypassing ethics and basic human care.”  Mr. Routh further indicated records show that Philippine Fire Safety officials repeatedly warned of these life safety issues, and noted “that had Dynata taken a fraction of the Philippine profits and applied it to fire safety equipment and training, this tragedy would likely have been prevented.”

According to company press releases, Survey Sampling International merged with Research Now on December 20, 2017, days before the tragedy, then announced a new name and brand, Dynata, on January 15, 2019.  Mr. Nolan believes this re-branding was designed in part to distance the company from the tragedy it caused, and questions whether Dynata informed its American political clients it was outsourcing these jobs to foreign countries and putting the lives of young foreign workers at risk.

The online court docket may be accessed here.  A copy of the complaint may be downloaded at (http://nolan-law.com/pdf/Complaint.pdf).  For further information, please contact Thomas J. Ellis, Nolan Law Group, Tel: (312) 493-3349, Email: tje@nolan-law.com

Ethiopian Report Shows Pilots and Passengers Suffered Terrifying Ordeal Due to Boeing’s MCAS

The Ethiopian government recently released its preliminary accident report to the public for the March 10, 2019 accident involving Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302. The report included plots of the Flight Data Recorder data and a detailed time history of events including those derived from the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR). Review of this data leaves no mystery as to why the Boeing 737 MAX fleet was grounded weeks ago after the data became available to the investigators and parties to the investigation. The 737 MAX is defective and dangerous in its current configuration and this data reveals the horror the Ethiopian pilots and their passengers experienced.

The accident airplane no sooner left the runway than the Captain’s stick shaker activated due to a single failed angle of attack (AOA) sensor on his side. Upon retracting the flaps and turning off the autopilot the Boeing MCAS system began applying nose-down stabilizer trim due to the failed AOA sensor, and the Captain trimmed against it with his electric trim switch. This cycle repeated until the flight crew recognized the symptoms and turned the stab trim switches to the CUTOUT position per Boeing procedures for runaway stabilizer trim. For some reason however, the crew could not get the mechanical stabilizer trim to work and they were left to hold their aft force on the control columns, with the Captain asking the First Officer to help him hold the high forces.

The flight crew eventually turned the electric stabilizer trim back on to try to relieve their control forces and the MCAS once again made nose-down stabilizer trim inputs until hitting the nose-down limit. The pilots couldn’t hold this much nose-up control force as the airplane had accelerated to 340 knots indicated airspeed, its maximum allowable airspeed.

Tragically, the airplane pitched nose-down and entered its fatal dive, accelerating to 500 knots airspeed and reaching -2 g vertical acceleration before impacting the ground at about 40 degrees nose-down pitch attitude and 20 degrees left-wing-down roll attitude. The airplane likely experienced terrifying high speed Mach buffet vibrations and related sounds of high airspeed as it descended towards the ground – a tragic final 20-second scene of emotional pain and suffering for everyone on the airplane.

Boeing failed to employ a proper and safe engineering process for the 737 MAX MCAS design, system safety analysis, and certification. The consequences are beyond horrific for those on board Flight 302, their families and friends, and the entire public who expect safe airline travel, especially from the modern “MAX” version of Boeing’s venerable 737 series. Boeing should and must be held fully accountable for its failures and all damages suffered by these innocent victims and their families.

Dogged by Design Deficiencies

After the second fatal crash in less than five months — this time an Ethiopian Airlines B737-8 MAX with 157 aboard — the Boeing public affairs statements had the aura of triteness:

“Boeing is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of the passengers and crew on Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 … We extend our heartfelt sympathies to the families and loved ones of the passengers and crew on board and stand ready to support the Ethiopian Airlines team.”

Note avoidance of the word “deaths” and the euphemism “the passing”. Boeing scrupulously avoided the reality: a crater dug out by the force of the plane’s impact and not one whole body to be found in the grisly depression.

Boeing’s sympathies are obligatory, one supposes, but one yearns for a statement like:

“We are very sorry for the loss of life surrounding the crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 and promise two things: adequate compensation to the victims’ families, and a rigorous, relentless campaign to smartly fix whatever investigators find deficient.”

The Lion Air Flight JT 610 crash in November 2018 brings to two fatal crashes of the new Boeing B737-8 MAX series. The airplane has been marketed aggressively by Boeing’s sale team. About 350 of the new airplanes are in worldwide service; the company has a backlog of orders amounting to some 2,900 of the B737 MAX series.

But in the intensely competitive arena of sales, Airbus has a distinct edge in safety. The MAX family record is now 0.13 crashes per million flights, as compared to 0.11 for the competitor’s A320 family. An 18% greater fatal accident rate does not inspire a glib confidence.

Moreover, the B737 has a long and discouraging history of fatal crashes. These disasters have imposed untold millions of dollars on the airlines to apply mandated fixes.

On April 28, 1988, an Aloha Airlines B737-200, flying from Honolulu to Hilo. Hawaii, to experienced an explosive failure in the top third of the fuselage. A flight attendant standing in the aisle was sucked through the opening and fell to her death in the Pacific Ocean, some 20,000 feet below. The pilots looked back and saw daylight beaming in to the passenger cabin, with torn aluminum panels and severed electrical cables buffeted by the wind. Fearing the whole airplane would come apart, they gingerly made a successful emergency landing at Maui.

Investigators found widespread corrosion, notably in the “lap joints” holding major pieces of the aluminum skin panels together. Some passengers, upon boarding this flight, noticed aluminum corrosion in the structure. So the degradation had been there for some time, but the airline did nothing and the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) principal maintenance inspector did not catch the delaminating lap joint, either.

After the accident investigation, the airplane was sold off for scrap (to become high quality pots and pans, no doubt).

The accident spurred the FAA into major scrutiny of the aluminum structure on so-called “geriatric jets”. Fleet wide inspections of high-time jets were ordered. Where necessary, repairs were imposed to strengthen degraded structure.

Yet this heightened attention was not sufficient. In April of 2011 a Southwest Airlines B737-300 experienced a rapid decompression, peeling off a strip of fuselage skin some 60 inches long and 8 inches wide. None of the 122 passengers and crew was badly injured (a broken nose being the worst). The airplane was 15 years old.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) observed drily that Boeing asserted the lap joint featured a different design with an improved life.

The testing and independent verification of greater durability, which should have been performed by the FAA, are unknown. Manufacturing records (documenting skin panel installation and any factory re-work of the lap joints) were not retained.

Later that April, the FAA issued an emergency airworthiness directive (AD) requiring the lap joints on all B737s be inspected. Also that month, the FAA issued its first regulatory requirement for the retention of quality control inspection records during manufacture. As the NTSB observed, “(T)here were no regulatory requirements for the retention of manufacturing records, just a policy agreed upon between the manufacturer and the FAA.”

Additional crashes of the B737 resulted from a faulty rudder control. The rudder is that part of the tailfin that moves the airplane left and right. The actuator in the fin was of a weight and space saving single actuator design. Malfunctions of the rudder were noted by some flight crews; others did not survive to file reports.

In September 2000 Boeing announced a redesign of the rudder actuator. Allen Bailey, Boeing’s chief engineer for safety and certification of the B737 fleet, declared, “We’re taking action to assure a higher level of safety for this airplane.”

“This is a very ambitious program,” enthused the FAA’s John Hickey.

The glowing announcement was concurrent with the public release of an Engineering Test & Evaluation Board report of the then-existing B737 rudder control system. This report identified 15 possible failures and jams of the rudder control system. In Boeing’s proposed redesign, two independent servo valves would replace one, as well two input arms to replace one, among other changes.

The modifications did not fully meet the NTSB’s call for a “reliably redundant” rudder control system. One way to achieve this would be through the retrofit of a multiple-panel rudder with separate actuators for each panel to replace the single panel rudder. If, say, the lower rudder panel experienced an uncommanded deflection, the pilots could use the upper panel of the rudder to counter the aerodynamic force.

The B737 MAX series also mounts a single panel rudder system; to this day, the B737 rudder does not meet the safety board’s criterion of a “reliably redundant” system. Nor does the MAX offer a rudder position instrument in the cockpit as standard equipment, as does Airbus for the A320. Rather, such a basic instrument is available as a purchaser’s option.

In fact, FAA regulations still permit the use of a single panel rudder in designing “transport category” aircraft. The regulations seem impervious to the passage of time, hard experience and the availability of more modern technology.

All of which is by preamble to the recent history of the B737-8/-9 MAX series.

On June 30, 2012, Boeing applied to the FAA for an amended, derivative type certificate for purposes of gaining federal approval to market the B737 MAX to airlines. Boeing represented to the FAA that the design changes not so extensive as to require a new type certificate. Rather, the existing Type Certificate A16WE could apply. The FAA agreed.

The type certificate referred to applies to the original B737-100, which was certified for production and sales way back in 1967. The current model B737-8 MAX is essentially a new airplane, with larger, heavier engines, a greater take off gross weight (TOGW), new avionics, a new “glass cockpit” replacing the “steam gauges” of yore, plus winglets and other features not included in the original B737 because they did not exist 52 years ago.

A salient question for the FAA: at what point is an aircraft design so different from the original that a new type certificate — and the extra scrutiny it entails — would be both prudent and necessary. As a general statement, it would seem that a TOGW 10% greater than the original, a 10% or greater fuselage length or wingspan, a 10% increase in thrust, a 10% deviation in center of gravity at TOGW, and a 10% or greater increase in lines of computer code, or any combination thereof, should warrant review pursuant to a brand new FAA type certificate. For too long, aircraft manufacturers have been exploiting the “derivative” gambit to circumvent the costlier and time-taking original certification process. However, the process imports maximum oversight and safety assurance before the aircraft is allowed in commercial service.

The tabulation below shows the differences between the first and the latest model:


The Original & The ‘Derivative’
Item B737-100 B737-8 MAX
Length 93 feet 129 feet
Wingspan 93 feet 118 feet
Engine power (each) 15,000 lbs. 27,300 lbs.
Empty weight 61,990 lbs. 99,360 lbs.
Take off gross weight 110,000 lbs. 172,500 lbs.
Range 1,720 NM 3,550 NM
Passenger capacity 96-124 180-210

Other than some portions of the fuselage, the B737-8 MAX bore little relationship to the original B737-100. That the FAA blessed a supplemental type certificate does speed the approval process — Boeing was anxious to receive certification — but at the expense of detailed review of the many changes and their interaction on the final product.

An original type certification process would have assessed whether or not the MAX aircraft was capable of continued safe flight following a single point failure of the control system from an erroneous high angle of attack sensor input.”

A single point failure is the cardinal no-no in aircraft design. As Captain Michael Michaelis, the senior safety official at American Airlines and a B737 pilot exclaimed, “A single point of failure on a significant system that points my nose towards the ground? Now that to me seems just a little over the line.”

Redundancy is the much-preferred choice, whereby a single point failure is compensated by alternative load paths, alternative software logic, and so forth. In this case, the airplane has three angle of attack sensors, but only one feeds the logic in the flight control computer. If that sensor is putting out erroneous information, the computer has no countervailing data on which to ignore the bum sensor.

The horizontal stabilizers, the little “wings” on the aft end of the airplane, are the principal controls for climb and descent. There is evidence suggesting that so-called “breakout switches”, if installed, failed to stop uncommanded movement that fatally pitched the two accident aircraft downwards.

It is also evident that the MAX series did not feature a warning which was clearly distinguishable to the pilot, without requiring his attention, for any failure in the stability augmentation system which could result in an unsafe condition if the pilot was unaware of the failure.

Traditionally, when an airplane experienced an uncommanded nose down movement of the stabilizer trim, a pilot could pull back on the control yoke and raise the nose. In the normal flight mode, this action would activate breakout switches that stop any automatic movement of the horizontal stabilizer at the aft end of the airplane. However, there is evidence that on the B737-8 MAX airplane the breakout switches do not activate in this situation.

In rare but dangerous situations, MCAS may well override control inputs from the pilot unless it is switched off. During the minimal transition training Boeing recommended for B737 pilots upgrading to the MAX, the attenuated curriculum did not even mention the existence of MCAS. In a November 2018 submission to the NASA-maintained Aviation Safety Reporting System a pilot opined:

“I think it is unconscionable that a manufacturer, the FAA, and the airlines would have pilots flying an airplane without adequately training, or even providing available resources and sufficient documentation to understand the highly complex systems that differentiate this aircraft from earlier models.”

When an uncommanded nose-down movement occurs on earlier B737s, the pitch down automatically activates breakout switches that stop the movement.

The B737-8 software appears to be a step backward in this respect. What were the Boeing software experts thinking, given the automatic breakout feature on earlier models of the B737? Not to mention, whose signatures at Boeing and at the FAA approved this software? In all likelihood, such paperwork exists.

Design of warnings is critical to aiding in pilots’ rapid decision making. Boeing originally designed the same warning for a takeoff configuration problem and a failure of the cabin pressurization system for the B737. In 2005 the pilots of a Helios Airways B737 thought the warning was for improper takeoff configuration, when it was in fact for cabin pressurization. All aboard, save one flight attendant with a portable oxygen bottle, suffered from hypoxia; all 121 aboard were killed when the airplane plunged into the foothills around Athens after the flight on autopilot from Cyprus. The accident spurred a change to the warning system to distinguish the two conditions. As evidence of its snail’s pace oversight, not until 2011 did the FAA order all B737-100 through -500 to be fitted with two additional warning lights. One would indicate a take off configuration failure; the other light was for pressurization malfunctions.

Unambiguous and attention-getting warnings to the pilots clearly are necessary for all potentially fatal situations. A thorough review of the adequacy of warnings, across the board to encompass all aircraft, not just the B787-8 MAX, appears long overdue.

The B737-8 was marketed to the airlines as an airplane easily mastered by pilots transitioning from earlier B737 models, with only a minimal amount of conversion training. Thus, pilots undergoing transition training to the MAX were not briefed on the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS.

The MCAS feature was added to minimize added training in handling the airplane when operated by foreign pilots, who would not necessarily come to the cockpit with the education or experience of U.S. or other “first world” airmen. Let the record show that the Lion Air B737-8 MAX was operated in Indonesia and the pilot-in-command was 31-year old Captain Bhavye Suneja; the Ethiopian pilot-in-command was 29-year old Captain Yared Getachew. Given their relative youth, these pilots were precisely the target airmen justifying the MCAS, which was not even mentioned in the attenuated upgrade training recommended by Boeing.

No less than President Trump, hardly an aviation expert, tweeted a sensible perspective:

“Split second decisions are needed, and the complexity creates danger … I don’t know about you, but I don’t want Albert Einstein to be my pilot. I want great flying professionals that are allowed to easily and quickly take control of a plane.”

There are now ominous rumblings in Congress for hearings into the B737-8 MAX certification process.

Leading this effort is Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR), chairman of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee.

“This is essentially a different airplane, and how is it that it was certified without requiring pilot retraining?” he said he asked the FAA.

The FAA responded that it was decided by a “consensus decision”.

Dissatisfied with the FAA’s weak response, Defazio and Rep. Rick Larsen (D-WA) issued this statement:

“Despite repeated assurances from the FAA in recent days, it has become abundantly clear to us that not only should the 737 MAX be grounded but also that there must be a rigorous investigation into why the aircraft, which has critical safety systems that did not exist on prior models, was certified without requiring additional pilot training. While a lot of data has yet to be recovered that will help explain why Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 went down, as Chairs of the Committee and Subcommittee with jurisdiction over the FAA … we plan to conduct rigorous oversight with every tool at our disposal to get to the bottom of the FAA’s decision-making process.”

Critical to this effort is the FAA’s decision to subcontract the certification process to Boeing. The legislators may be astonished to learn of the degree to which the FAA willingly has handed over the certification process to the very same entities requesting certification. Thoughts of granting the fox keys to the henhouse come to mind.

Every county in the country has separate officials, on the public payroll, to certify that the work of construction contractors satisfies building codes. Yet the FAA has encouraged aircraft manufacturers to self-certify compliance with Federal Aviation Regulations.

Independent checks and balances are utterly lost. Now the FAA and Boeing will have to answer to an independent Congressional committee. If the FAA and Boeing offer “consensus decisions” as the best guarantor of safety, expect fireworks at the hearing.

Nolan Law Group Files Suit Against The Boeing Company

Chicago, Illinois (December 5, 2018) Nolan Law Group filed a lawsuit against The Boeing Company on behalf of a family who has suffered the loss of a loved one due to the crash of Lion Air Flight JT 601. The complaint was filed in the Northern District of Illinois and identifies that the Boeing Company breached its duty of care to the Plaintiff and identifies the particulars of the Boeing Company’s negligence and carelessness. The civil action seeks compensatory damages arising out of a commercial airline crash on October 29, 2018 involving a Boeing Model 737-8 airplane operated as Lion Air Flight JT 610 that crashed into the waters of the Java Sea off the coast of the Republic of Indonesia killing all one hundred eighty-nine (189) persons on board.

Here you can find a copy of the complaint filed by Nolan Law Group as well as the Answer that was filed by The Boeing Company:

Satijo v. The Boeing Company – Complaint

Satijo v. The Boeing Company – Answer to Complaint

Nolan Law Group currently represents several families who have lost family members in the Lion Air Flight JT601 crash on October 29, 2018.

Nolan Law Group helps individuals and families, in Chicago and around the world, after a tragic loss or serious personal injury. The law firm focuses its practice on aviation disasters. Nolan Law Group is one of a small number of law firms with a niche in the highly complex and ever changing area of global and domestic aviation litigation.

For more information, please contact the firm at 312.630.4000 or contact@nolan-law.com .

Hazards Aplenty & Nobody Apparently Voiced Reservations

Instead of a journey to Mexico City lasting an hour or more, Aeromexico Flight 2431 was in the air for less than a minute after rolling down the runway at General Guadalupe Victoria International Airport at Durango. The airplane rotated to climb and then settled hard onto the earth within a half-mile of the tarmac’s end. Fortunately, all 103 people aboard the 31 July flight survived (some with serious injuries).

The pilots will be available for interview by crash investigators. The flight data and cockpit voice recorders were pulled intact from the wreckage. Crash investigators have a fortuitous wealth of information.

Not how the flight was supposed to end

Not how the flight was supposed to end

The 99 passengers are owed an explanation. Others who fly commercial also merit assurances that the crash will not be repeated again anytime soon.

Bad weather, specifically a gust of wind, is attributed to the crash, but much, much more merits airplane investigation by investigators. This appears to be an accident caused by bad judgment — specifically by the pilots but also by air traffic controllers in the airport tower.

Let’s pose the salient questions in sequence as the airplane left the departure gate and positioned itself for takeoff.

Was the airplane behind schedule? If so, the pilots may have been under subtle pressure by the airline to depart. The culture of Aeromexico merits review. Was the number one goal to meet schedule or to meet safety?

On what basis did the tower controller advise Flight 2431’s pilots they were cleared for takeoff? The tower controllers had access to weather radar. They could see the runway right out the tower’s panoramic windows. If gusty, dangerous winds prevailed, the folks in the tower would have seen them.

Were jetliners landing or taking off immediately preceding Flight 2431? Were these airplanes being noticeably bounced around by wind gusts? Did the pilots of these planes report to the tower that the conditions were dicey, if not dangerous?

In the cockpit of Flight 2431, the crew had access to their weather radar; what was on the scope that led them to believe a safe takeoff could be made? The Reverend Esequiel Sanchez, a window seat passenger, recalled that at the time it was raining so hard all appeared blackness outside his window. The same view would have appeared through the cockpit windscreen. Did either the captain or first officer voice any concerns? The essence of what’s called Crew Resource Management (CRM) is for the pilot monitoring to advise the pilot flying that the situation appears unsafe. The tower may have issued clearance to take off, but the flight crew was staring into wind borne and rain splattered blackness.

The pilots could have waited 10 or 15 minutes for the storm to pass, yet Captain Carlos Meyron released the brakes and shoved the throttles of the Embraer 190 twinjet to takeoff thrust. How long had he and the first officer been awake? This was not their first flight of the day. Had they been awake since dawn and were afflicted with sleep-deprived fatigue by the afternoon? Fatigue clouds judgment and can lead to a fixation on carrying out the flight schedule.

The takeoff roll into the windy darkness — the degree of crosswind is one of the significant as-yet-unknown details here — was described by passengers as incredibly bumpy from the start.

The airplane may have been pushed by the down gust back onto the runway three times before finally getting airborne. One assumes here that the airplane was properly configured for takeoff (e.g., flaps set) and that engines were putting out full power (e.g., more than a reduced-power takeoff).

The jet was climbing into an increasing downpour and was being buffeted by downdrafts. The jet smacked onto the earth within sight of the runway’s end.

It is not clear whether or not the order to evacuate came from the cockpit, but flight attendants barked, “Get out of the airplane!”

Passengers were screaming; the airplane was in flames — probably from fuel spilled by the fractured wing tanks which was ignited by the hot engines.

The airport firefighters, ambulances and whatnot arrived at the scene and evacuated all to hospitals. More than 60 people were released quickly, with only minor cuts and abrasions. It is fortunate that the airplane was unable to climb higher or accelerate to a greater speed, as either could have resulted in a greater impact with the ground, with more serious injuries or deaths.

The crash investigators will have to wrestle with a salient question: Why was takeoff under those conditions even attempted?

To learn more about how Nolan Law Group represents victims of aviation accidentstraumatic brain injury victims, and other serious personal injury and wrongful death matters, contact the firm today online or call 312.630.4000.

Nolan Law Group Obtains One Of The Nation’s Top 20 Verdicts Of 2017

Chicago-based law firm Nolan Law Group regularly advocates for the victims of aviation disasters and their loved ones. The firm recently helped recover another multimillion-dollar award for the families of three victims of a 2013 cargo plane crash in Afghanistan. The $115.75 million award in Cook County was the 19th largest jury verdict in the United States in 2017.

The details of the crash — captured on dash cam video on April 29, 2013 — were tragic. The defendant in the case, National Air Cargo, Inc., was responsible for loading and restraining two 12-ton and three 18-ton U.S. Marine Corps Mine Resistant Armor Protected (MRAP) vehicles onto a Boeing 747 cargo plane operated by National Airlines. The flight was supposed to take the five MRAP vehicles to Dubai, where they would be loaded onto a sea vessel. Ultimately, the plane crashed and the seven crew members aboard perished.

As plaintiff’s attorney for two of the three victims’ estates, Nolan Law Group gathered and presented evidence to the jury showing that the plane crash and the resulting deaths of the crew members occurred because National Air Cargo, Inc. did not have a sufficient number of restraints or tie-down points in the airplane’s cargo area to safely carry five heavy MRAP vehicles. In fact, evidence showed that the safety equipment on board would only have been sufficient for one of the 12-ton MRAPs — not the five vehicles on board. Making matters worse, the safety straps and restraints that were available were not in good condition and some should no longer have been used at the time of the crash.

As the plane took off from Bagram, Afghanistan after the cargo was improperly loaded, the safety restraints failed, sending one of the MRAP vehicles through the aft bulkhead at the airplane’s tail. Flight control systems and hydraulics were so badly damaged that the flight’s crew wasn’t able to regain control of the plane and it ultimately crashed to the ground, killing all aboard.

The jury returned a total award of $115.75 million for three plaintiffs — including $47.25 million for the Captain’s estate; $43 million for the estate of the First Officer; and $25.5 million for the estate of an off-duty Captain in the cockpit. Each award included $5 million, recognizing the shock, fright and emotional distress the victims experienced in the minutes leading to the plane crash. Following the verdit, these three cases did settle for a confidential amount, as well as the cases for the families of three other co-employees represented by Nolan Law Group.

With more than three decades of experience advocating for victims of serious personal injury accidents and for the families of wrongful death victims, Nolan Law Group has built a reputation for being willing and capable of handling complex cases involving aviation disasters. This recent jury verdict demonstrates the firm’s commitment to pursuing justice.

Nolan Law Group’s founder, Donald Nolan — who along with partner Thomas Routh — represented the estates of the First Officer and the off-duty Captain. “The jury’s verdict sent a message that our society still values human life and safety over the pursuit of increased corporate profit,” said Nolan.

To learn more about how Nolan Law Group represents victims of aviation accidents, traumatic brain injury victims, and other serious personal injury and wrongful death matters, contact the firm today online or call 312.630.4000.

$115M awarded for Afghanistan plane crash


Law Bulletin Staff Writer

A Cook County jury last Thursday night awarded a $115.75 million verdict to the families of three flight crew members who were killed when the cargo plane crashed at the Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan.

The plaintiffs filed wrongful death complaints against National Air Cargo Inc. and affiliated company
National Airlines after a Boeing 747-400 it operated crashed, killing all seven crew members aboard.

The plaintiffs alleged National Air was responsible for the April 29, 2013, crash, which was captured on a dashboard video that went viral. The plane was carrying five armored vehicles. They alleged Boeing manuals showed the plane could only haul one of the five vehicles at most and that the vehicles were not tied down with the required number of straps.

Following a 13-day trial, at about 9 p.m. Thursday, a jury awarded $47.25 million to the estate of flight captain Brad Hasler, which had originally been a $54 million verdict but was reduced due to contributory negligence attributed to him.

The estate of first officer Jamie L. Brokaw was awarded $43 million and $25.5 million was awarded to the estate of Jeremy P. Lipka, an off-duty pilot who was in the cockpit. They were all from Michigan.

“The jury’s verdict sent a message that our society still values human life and safety over the pursuit of increased corporate profit,” said Donald J. Nolan of Nolan Law Group in a news release. Nolan and his colleague Thomas P. Routh represented the estates of Brokaw and Lipka.

Hasler’s estate was represented by David Katzman and Bruce Lampert of Katzman Lampert & McClune in Troy, Mich. “We’re very pleased with the result,” Katzman said.

The crash happened after a Boeing 747-400 converted freighter was loaded with five mine-resistant, armor-protected vehicles owned by the Marine Corps at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, and headed to Bagram en route to Dubai World Airport where the vehicles were set to be loaded onto a ship. They eventually were set to be transported to Yermo, Calif.

Shortly after the plane took off from the Bagram, where it had stopped to refuel, it stalled, took a sharp dive toward the ground, crashed and exploded.

The plaintiffs alleged at least one of the 18-ton vehicles broke away from its restraints, pushing a smaller vehicle through the back bulkhead of the plane and cutting two hydraulic system lines and causing other extensive damage.

According to information from the Nolan Law Group, two “black box” recorders were damaged when the vehicles shifted.

Information from the boxes showed they stopped recording when the plane was 33 feet above ground, at which time the plaintiffs alleged the plane nosed up and entered an aerodynamic stall before it fell to the ground.

According to the release from Nolan Law Group, the U.S. Department of Defense had a multimodal contract with National Airlines to move military equipment from Afghanistan to the United States. National Airlines had a joint venture with National Air Cargo Inc., based in New York, and National Air Cargo Middle East FZE in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, to perform the work under the contract.

Of the five armored vehicles loaded on the plane, two of them weighted 12 tons and three were 18 tons. The plaintiffs argued the Boeing plane manual and the manual from Telair International, which was the manufacturer of the cargo handling system used to tie the vehicles down, showed that no more than one of the 12-ton vehicles could be safely transported on the plane.

They further alleged there were not nearly enough straps used to tie down the vehicles and that the straps that were used were in poor condition.

The jury ruled in favor of the plaintiffs on counts of wrongful death and predeath damages. The verdict amounts included $5 million each “for the shock and fright each of the men experienced from the time of takeoff until the time of the airplane’s impact with the ground,” the Nolan firm’s release states.

The suit was filed in Cook County because The Boeing Co. was originally named as a defendant. Boeing and AAR International/ Telair International, which were also previously named as defendants, settled before trial, according to information from Nolan Law Group. Mark A. Dombroff, a Dentons partner based out of Washington, D.C., who represented National Air, declined to comment.

The case was tried before Circuit Judge Lorna E. Propes. The three consolidated cases were Elizabeth Brokaw v. National Air Cargo, Inc., 13 L 9650; William Thompson v. National Air Cargo, Inc., 13 L 9651; and Robin D. Hasler, et al., v. Natio

To learn more about how Nolan Law Group can represent you, contact the firm today online or call 312.630.4000.

**VIDEO** Donald J. Nolan Interviewed on ABC News Discussing Springfield School Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Donald J. Nolan was recently interviewed on Springfield’s ABC News 20 regarding an incident which occurred last September that sent more than 180 students from North Mac school to the hospital for carbon monoxide poisoning. Five separate lawsuits were filed in connection with the deadly gas exposure.

Donald J. Nolan Re: North Mac school carbon monoxide poisoning

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Source: ABC News

To learn more about how Nolan Law Group can represent you, contact the firm today online or call 312.630.4000.

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