U.S. Government Awards $9.48 Million After Verdict Found FAA Largely Responsible For Crash
The crash of a Piper Cherokee at Jacksonville International Airport resulted
in the deaths of all four on board. The pilot, attorney Don Weidner, and
another attorney, Thomas Bowden, together with their clients James and
Adrienne Abrisch, were all from the Jacksonville area. There was heavy
fog in the region that evening and Mr. Weidner had tried to land at two
other nearby airports, without success. Relying on favorable weather reports
about current conditions at Jacksonville International (JIA), he diverted
the aircraft there. The plane crashed while he was attempting to land.
In investigating the crash, our attorneys uncovered several factors they were certainhad played a major role. The accident occurred when the tower was closed for renovations. Air Traffic Controllers at JIA were operating out of an ill-equipped temporary tower. This tower did not include standard weather equipment, including radar and weather-measuring instruments. Controllers were communicating via the “walkie-talkie” feature of their cellular phones with other controllers in a separate building and providing only infrequent weather updates. Our attorneys proved in a Federal Court trial that Air Traffic Controllers failed to update Don Weidner on the deteriorating weather conditions prior to his attempted landing, and that this negligence was the key cause of his crash.
A U.S. District Court Judge ruled that the Air Traffic Controllers were negligent by failing to provide the pilot with current weather conditions and attributed the majority of the fault for the crash to the FAA. The Federal Government paid the families involved a total of $9.48 million as settlement in this wrongful death case.