Nolan Law Group Files Suit in Southwest Crash at Midway

Chicago, Illinois.-A lawsuit arising from the crash of Southwest Airlines Flight 1248 at Midway Airport was filed today in the Circuit Court of Cook County by Nolan Law Group on behalf of one of the passengers in the crash. The lawsuit names Southwest Airlines and the City of Chicago, which operates Midway Airport, as defendants.

The Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-700 was landing in a snowstorm at Midway Airport at about 7:15 p.m. at the northwest corner of the airport when it skidded off the runway and crashed through a barrier and into traffic. Ms. Bonnie James, a medical technician and the plaintiff in this case, was one of the passengers taken by ambulance to a hospital after the crash. She has not returned to work since the accident. Ms. James is a resident of Chicago, Illinois.

“Ms. James and other passengers – as well as the people on the ground – were let down by everyone who had a hand in allowing that plane to land under the conditions that prevailed at the time,” aviation attorney Donald J. Nolan said in announcing the filing of the lawsuit. “Our hope is that this lawsuit will draw attention to the systemic weaknesses in place to protect the safety of our air travelers. One of the dreadful aspects of this tragedy is that it didn’t have to happen. It was completely avoidable if everyone entrusted with the safety of the aircraft had simply decided to divert the plane to a neighboring airport.”

“What makes this accident even worse is that runway overruns such as this are preventable with technology already in place at similar urban airports,” Nolan added. “Engineered Material Arresting Systems (EMAS) are in place at LaGuardia, JFK, Burbank, Little Rock and Baton Rouge airports,” he added, “and they have proven effective in averting such disasters.”

The arresting material, made of soft concrete, has stopped three dangerous overruns since May 1999 at Kennedy Airport in New York., Nolan said. “We know the system works,” Nolan says. “I think there is an urgent need to install the EMAS at Midway.”

National Transportation Safety Board member Ellen Engleman Conners said the braking condition of the runway at the time of accident was rated by air traffic controllers as “fair for most of the runway and poor at the end.” The plane hit the fence 32 seconds after it touched down. The plane’s ground speed was 152 miles per hour as it landed and it hit the fence at about 46 miles per hour, Conners said. A non-standard EMAS installation, which would be required at Midway, would be designed to stop aircraft traveling at 40 knots – which is exactly 46.1 mph, Nolan observed.

Nolan added that crashes like this one often result in mild trauma brain injury to passengers from being buffeted during extreme acceleration / deceleration of the aircraft. “There may be little or no apparent indication of physical injury,” Nolan explained, “beyond the victim saying he or she doesn’t ‘feel right’, and they spiral downward from the skeptical reception they receive. Neuroimaging techniques today show actual physical changes in the brain in cases of post-traumatic disorder, which is seen in virtually all cases like this.”

About Nolan Law Group

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 primarily on mass tort aviation and closed brain injury litigation.

Nolan Law Group is one of small number of law firms with a niche in the highly complex and ever-changing area of aviation litigation and is active all over the world. With regard to traumatic brain injury litigation, Nolan Law Group has pioneered the use of sophisticated technology to demonstrate the extent of brain damage that can occur as a result of accidents.

The firm has earned recognition by the legal industry’s leading authority, Martindale-Hubbell, for impeccable professional ethics and for legal abilities of the highest caliber.