Articles Posted in Wrongful Death

After a routine mosquito abatement flight, an airplane crash that left two dead will likely lead to changes at a Slidell airport.

Wayne Fisher, 68, and Donald Pechon, 59, were found dead after another pilot reported seeing a spark of electricity from high-power transmission lines near the Slidell Municipal Airport followed by a plume of flame just north of a runway.  The pilots collided with the transmission towers, according to a preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board.  The report notes that it was a calm, clear night at the time of the crash, with visibility at 10 miles.  According to Airport manager Richard Artigue, both men were experienced pilots and Fisher was a reserved deputy with the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office and flew helicopters in that capacity.

The primary factor in the crash, appears to be the location of the towers in relation to the airport.  Even though the towers conform to Federal Aviation Administration regulations, Artigue reported that local officials have long recognized the potential safety hazard.   While the only other fatal crash at Slidell Municipal Airport occurred in 1974, the April 19 crash has compelled officials to address the relocation of the transmission lines. As Artigue noted, the airport is used by far less experienced pilots than Fisher and Pechon and is heavily utilized for student pilot training.

Duck Commander Inc., the company behind Duck Dynasty, and the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development have been named defendants in a lawsuit filed by Jennifer Young, the mother of Madison Welch.

Filed in St. Martin Parish, the suit maintains that Madison Welch’s accident was not simple user error, but rather the result of an 18-wheeler operated “by agents, employees and/or licensees of Duck Commander Inc.” cutting into Welch’s lane and forcing her off the road.  This allegation evidently arises from a phone conversation Welch was engaged with at the time of the incident.  The friend who was on the other end reported that Welch exclaimed something about a nearby truck and then the line went silent.  Shortly after being told by the friend of what occurred, Welch’s family was notified of the accident. Welch’s Toyota Tacoma left the road and flipped, ejecting her.  Welch later succumbed to her injuries and died.

Young’s case additionally relies on the testimony of William Kirksey, who claimed to have witnessed the entire event and was one of the first people on the scene.  Kirksey stated that two 18-wheelers were exiting the freeway at the same time as Welch.  Both were in line, but at one point, one of them swerved into Welch’s lane, apparently causing her to veer off the road.

An Oklahoma woman has filed suit against Rolls-Royce over the death of her husband, alleging that the engine of the helicopter he was piloting was defective and caused the fatal crash.

Collen Ricks of Grady County, Oklahoma, along with her two minor children, sued the Rolls-Royce Corporation on March 30 in the United States Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.  The complaint alleged that the defendant aircraft engine provider defectively designed and/or manufactured turbine systems that would develop cracks in the exhaust system.

According to the suit,  Brandon Ricks was piloting a Model 206 L-1 Bell Helicopter on a public use flight near Saucier, Mississippi pursuant to a contract with the U.S. Forest Service.  At some point during this flight, the helicopter suddenly lost power, causing the fatal crash in question.

On March 29, suit was filed in United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana by Kathryn Swanson, both individually and as special administrator of Denis I. Swanson, her late husband.  Swanson has alleged breach of duty and negligence on the part of McDermott International Inc. and McDermott Inc., claiming that they are at fault for the death of her husband.

According to the suit, Denis Swanson work on derrick barges owned by the defendants and was under their employ for approximately twenty years, from 1977 to 1997.  The suit posits that it was during this time that Swanson was exposed to asbestos, suffering personal injuries and eventually death due to the negligence of the defendants and the unseaworthiness of their vessels.

The complaint states that the defendants failed to maintain their vessels and equipment in a safe and reasonable condition, failed to warn of the dangers of asbestos exposure, failed to provide safe and proper protective equipment, and failed to design, construct, repair, and maintain their vessels in a safe manner.

A collision on the Lake Pontchartrain Bridge caused a 90-minute closure and left two women with moderate injuries last Friday.

Alvin Kimbrel of Belle Chasse was cited for careless driving after failing to recognize a vehicle as stalled in the right lane of the southbound side of the highway.  Kimbrel’s Ford F250 hit the other vehicle, a Dodge Ram containing driver, Alicia Lee, and passenger, Kala Perkins, at 65 miles per hour.  The force of impact pushed the Ram approximately 434 feet and caused it to catch fire, according to authorities.  The two women were aided in escaping the burning vehicle by a state trooper who was near the scene at the time.

According to reports, the Dodge Ram had experienced engine failure while on the Bridge and had coasted to a stop.  Despite having its emergency flashers activated, Kimbrel failed to recognize that the vehicle was stopped and thus did not take evasive action.  Kimbrel’s Ford flipped and landed on its wheels, blocking the remainder of the highway.

An incident during last year’s Krewe of Excalibur Carnival parade in Metairie has resulted in civil repercussions.  Don J. Dauzat, 52, was struck and killed by an allegedly drunk motorist who was purportedly pursued by a Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Deputy at the time.  Now, Dazuat’s family has filed a wrongful-death suit in the 24th Judicial District Court in Gretna, naming the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, Excalibur, King Arthur, PFJ Float Co., and others as defendants.

According to the suit, Dauzat had finished dropping off the float he was pulling for the Excalibur parade and was transporting a tractor to a staging area for the Knights of King Arthur parade.  It was at this time, about 2:50 a.m., that he was struck by a 2002 Ford Explorer driven by Michael Burrle near Lapalco Boulevard and Paxton Street in Harvey.  The impact caused the tractor to roll approximately 70 feet and flung Dauzat from it, resulting in severe injuries to his skull and brain.  He was transported to a New Orleans hospital but died less than a day later from his injuries.

Burrle was booked on suspicion of DWI and was eventually charged with vehicular homicide to which he plead not guilty.

A New Orleans parade route had a bit of an interruption on Friday, January 29, when an 18-wheeler struck a tree along the route.  The impact caused a large branch to fall on six people, injuring four.

The four Oshun and Cleopatra attendees were treated for minor injuries, according to New Orleans Police Department.  Local fire department and emergency personnel were also on the scene, which occurred at the intersection of Amelia Street and Saint Charles Avenue.

According to nola.com, a witness stated that it looked like the driver was attempting to avoid the crowd when he struck the tree at around 7:50 p.m.  A city clean-up crew arrived to cut and transport the branch to clear the street.  The work was completed at around 10 p.m.

A lawsuit has been brought against Chevron for a shrimp boat that sank last year, allegedly due to an underwater and unmarked vessel owned by the company.

Hosea Wilson and Shajaun Turner filed suit on January 19 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana against Chevron USA, Inc.  They claimed negligence on the part Chevron which resulted in damage to personal property and personal injury.

According to the suit, on March 19, Wilson and Turner were piloting a 36-foot Newton shrimp boat in Garden Island Bay in Plaquemines Parish.  It was at this time that their vessel collided with a submerged and unmarked vessel owned by Chevron.  The collision caused heavy hull damage to Wilson’s boat, and injured both men, according to the complaint.  Additionally, the hull damage was so severe that Wilson’s boat took on water and sank.

A two-vehicle crash involving four individuals occurred last Sunday in Crown Point.  Two were injured, one of whom, Susan Tiano, 71 of Lexington, Massachusetts, was later pronounced dead at University Medical Center in New Orleans, according to reports.

The incident occurred at the intersection of Bataria Boulevard and Leo Kerner Lafitte Parkway at 5 p.m. January 9, 2015.  According to the investigating officers, Tiano was a passenger in a 2015 Nissan Versa driven by Anton Becker, 75 of Newport, Massachusetts.  The Versa was driving southbound on Bataria, when, after turning left and disregarding a stop sign, it collided with a 2004 Nissan Titan driven by a Marrero man.

The two occupants of the Titan as well as Marrero were taken to a local hospital for minor injuries. Tiano, who suffered injuries significantly more severe was brought to University Medical Center by paramedics.

A pilot’s wife has accused several companies of performing faulty maintenance on the helicopter her husband was flying when it suffered catastrophic engine failure, which led to his death.

Colleen Hicks, of Oklahoma, individually, on behalf of her minor children, and as representative of her husband, Brandon Seth Ricks, filed suit on December 10 against Cadorath Aerospace LaFayette LLC, H&H Turbine Services LLC and Rotorcraft Leasing Co. LLC, claiming negligence that resulted in Brandon Ricks’s death.

The complaint states that Brandon Ricks, age 40, was piloting a Model 206 L-1 helicopter from Griffin Memorial Airport in Mississippi to aid in a controlled burn initiated by the U.S. Forest Service on March 30.  At a point during the flight, engine failed, resulting in a crash that killed both Ricks and the passenger.  According to the suit, Cadorath and the other defendants performed negligent maintenance on the craft from 2009 to 2014 which caused the engine failure in question.

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