The Wolk Law Firm

Verdicts/Settlements for the period 1990 to 1999

$107,000,000 Verdict

Datskow vs. Teledyne

In this case tried before a jury in Rochester New York, an award of one hundred seven million dollars ($107,000,000) was given for the deaths of a family of four who burned alive when their single engine airplane crashed in Winston Salem North Carolina. The Wolk Law Firm proved that Teledyne, knowing that the engine it supplied for the victims’ aircraft was dangerously defective, continued to urge the pilot to fly the airplane. The engine caught fire just before landing and the airplane crashed killing all aboard.

1991 Bodnar vs. The Boeing Company

This claim arose from the crash of a Boeing 737 at Colorado Springs Colorado when the rudder suddenly went hard over while the aircraft maneuvered for a landing at the Colorado Springs Airport. Boeing denied that such a failure could even occur and The Wolk Law Firm not only established that it could and did but discovered through hard fought litigation that Boeing knew about it, knew the means to fix it, had done nothing to correct the problem and continued to build Boeing 737’s with the same defect. It was also established that Boeing deliberately misled both the FAA and the NTSB about the cause of this accident continually denying that such a failure mode could occur.

The Wolk Law Firm purchased a rudder control unit and tested it to failure proving that both Boeing, the designer of the rudder control system and Parker Hannifin, its manufacturer were not truthful about the failure modes of the system. The National Transportation Safety Board adopted The Wolk Law Firm’s version of the accident cause. Boeing settled as did Parker Hannifin. The defendants had claimed that a sudden windstorm called a rotor rolled the aircraft over and caused the accident. Arthur Alan Wolk engaged the services of the German scientist who coined the term “rotor” who made short work of the defendants’ fictional account of the cause of the accident. Arthur Alan Wolk again while the smoke was still rising from the crash correctly identified its cause on CNN’s Larry King Live.

1994 Hamley vs. The Boeing Company

This case arose due to the death of a flight attendant aboard USAIR Flight 427, a Boeing 737 that crashed outside Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. The cause of the crash was yet another rudder hard over from the very same cause as resulted in the crash of United Flight 585 in Colorado Springs just three years before. All the while The Wolk Law Firm kept telling the NTSB that another crash would happen if the Boeing 737 was not fixed and after the Boeing Company countered that it and not The Wolk Law Firm knew the B-737 best, this crash occurred killing another 133 people. The Wolk Law Firm established once again that it was the rudder actuator that failed in precisely the same way as it had in Colorado and this time both the FAA and the NTSB required that changes be made in the rudder control of the Boeing 737. Video of the failure modes that Boeing and Parker Hannifin denied could happen were prepared by The Wolk Law Firm and provided to the NTSB. The case was settled. Arthur Alan Wolk correctly identified the cause of this crash on various media within hours after the crash.

$3,250,000 Settlement

1994 Caption Confidential

This settlement of three million two hundred and fifty thousand dollars ($3,250,000) was paid for the death of a pilot who died when his aircraft crashed due to engine failure while he was on a narcotics eradication mission.

$4,000,000 Settlement

1995 Caption Confidential

A four million dollar ($4,000,000) settlement was obtained for the loss of a young wife and infant child in the crash of an airliner. The Wolk Law Firm established the manufacturer of the aircraft had improperly obtained certification for flight into known icing conditions and that others had experienced loss of control under similar conditions.

1997 Comair Flight 3272

The Wolk Law Firm represented the family of a young Air Force airman who sent his wife and infant child to see her parents as a Christmas present. An Embraer 120, operated by Comair, crashed in icing conditions after the crew lost control. All aboard were killed. The extremely favorable settlement resulted when Arthur Wolk, on the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee, established that the Embraer 120 was unstable in icing conditions, had suffered loss of control incidents before the crash, and was improperly designed for flight into icing conditions.

The Wolk Law Firm

 Verdicts/Settlements for the period 1970 to 1989

1971 Hortman vs. Piper

Successful settlement due to the crash of a Piper Cherokee Six in the mountains of Virginia. The aircraft was flown by a 39,000 hour retired airline pilot. The Wolk Law Firm proved that the 15% concentration of carbon monoxide in the victim’s blood was due to a leaking cabin heater muffler rendering the pilot unconscious at cruising altitude of 9,500 feet. Cause of the accident was the choice of stainless steel for the muffler by Piper which knew that the material was brittle and could fail without warning.

1973 Rauch vs. United Instruments

This was the first successful aviation class action brought to reimburse owners of defective aircraft altimeters the cost of modifications to improve their resistance to jamming.

$29,300,000 Verdict

1984 Harper vs. Cessna

This was the first of the seat slip accident trials that resulted in punitive damages against Cessna. The Wolk Law Firm represented two of the victims of this single engine airplane crash that was caused by a defective seat latch that allowed the pilot’s seat to slip backwards on takeoff. The sudden movement of the seat was proved to have caused a loss of control, pitching the airplane up and then suddenly down causing the deaths of three of the four occupants and serious injuries to a fourth occupant. It was proved that Cessna had hundreds of reports of similar accidents and did nothing to remedy the problem. The jury awarded twenty-nine million three hundred thousand dollars ($29,300,000) in compensatory and punitive damages.

1989 Bealer vs. United Airlines

This was one of many passenger cases handled by The Wolk Law Firm arising out of the crash of United 232, a McDonnell Douglas DC-10 that crashed in an Iowa cornfield following an explosion in its tail mounted engine. The shrapnel tore the three hydraulic lines apart and the aircraft became uncontrollable. Thanks to the courageous efforts of a DC-10 check airman riding in the back, who came forward to help, many were saved, although 110 were lost. The plaintiff in this case was a newlywed who lost her husband. The case was settled before trial. Arthur Alan Wolk is credited with disclosing the exact cause of this crash on Larry King Live within three hours of the accident.

$1,300,000 Verdict

1989 Murray vs. General Electric Company United Flight 232

This trial was the only one actually taken to verdict arising out of the crash of United 232. The plaintiff was a flight attendant whose principal injury was post traumatic stress disorder. She was too afraid to fly as a crewmember after experiencing the terror of the United 232 disaster. Verdicts in such cases had not exceeded $125,000 before a jury in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania awarded the plaintiff one million three hundred thousand dollars ($1,300,000).

This verdict remains the largest ever in aviation for post traumatic stress disorder. The Wolk Law Firm also represented a number of families who lost loved ones in the crash. All other settlements were very favorable to the families of the victims. Arthur Wolk was on the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee and, before his settlements and verdict, was lead trial counsel. Most notable was that on an appearance on Larry King Live within hours of the crash, Arthur Wolk correctly identified the cause of the crash, an achievement that caused Larry King not only to write a letter complimentary to Arthur Wolk, but also to have him back on his show more than twenty times since 1989 to speak on matters of aviation safety and airplane accidents.

$6,000,000 Settlement

1989 Caption Confidential

This six million dollar ($6,000,000) settlement was paid for the loss of a pilot whose aircraft crashed on approach to an airport when dirt contaminated the fuel control and caused an engine to roll back to flight idle. The manufacturer was required to issue a corrective service bulletin as part of the settlement.

$6,000,000 Verdict

1989 Schofield vs. Piper Aircraft Corporation

A jury awarded the parents of a young pilot the largest verdict for loss of a child by parents who were not dependent. The six million dollar ($6,000,000) verdict arose from the crash of a Piper Aztec on approach in bad weather when one of the wing flaps suddenly retracted due to the failure of a part that had failed repeatedly in the past.