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Texas: Pressurized Airplane Door Kills Mechanic

Counsel Financial

The deceased, a 42-year-old airplane mechanic, was working on a recently landed aircraft owned by Defendant--aircraft owner and operated by co-Defendant--aircraft operator. During the course of his employment, the mechanic opened the airplane's cockpit door, which was still pressurized, thereby triggering the door to fly open explosively. The door struck the mechanic's head, causing fatal injuries. The mechanic's wife, on behalf of the mechanic's estate and their children, sued the aircraft manufacturer and owner for products liability and the operator and pilot for negligence. Plaintiff--estate alleged that the door opened explosively because the aircraft cabin depressurization system was defectively designed, as it included no warning or alert systems regarding the pressurization of the cabin. Furthermore, Plaintiffs argued that Defendants were negligent for failing to depressurize the cabin or failing to warn the mechanic that the cabin was still pressurized. The jury found the aircraft manufacturer 20 percent liable and the pilot 80 percent liable.

VERDICT: $6,820,000

ACTUAL: $5,286,784. Pre-judgment interest in the amount of $266,784 was added to the verdict; however, the award was offset by $1,800,000 from a settlement with the aircraft manufacturer prior to trial.

Aubrey Leon Hagerman as dependent administrator for the Estate of Larry Hagerman, deceased and Kathy Hagerman as next friend of A.H. and W.H., minors v. Hawker Beechcraft Corp., Pumpco Inc. Alaro Inc. and Albert Francis Sidaras