We are frequently recognized for our cases and verdicts involving catastrophic injury and death related to air crashes; but our firm also handles truck wrecks, oilfield explosions, defective medical devices, harmful prescription drugs and much more. In fact, two of our recent winning verdicts, which highlighted risks associated with ground operators who service and support aircraft, combined skills from multiple Slack & Davis lawyers and practice areas.
On August 2, 2009, Rene Leduc, a baggage handler for American Airlines at DFW airport, had just dropped off a cart of luggage and was returning to the bag room underneath the terminal. As Mr. Leduc entered the bag room area, a pickup truck unexpectedly pulled out from his right. Mr. Leduc swerved to miss the pickup and clipped a parked luggage cart, resulting in a severe fracture to Mr. Leduc’s left leg. The insurer for the at‑fault vehicle made a settlement offer of only $25,000 and refused to negotiate any further. Mike Davis, joined by Mark Pierce and Paula Sweeney, led the trial team that obtained a $3,700,942.72 verdict in Dallas County on July 26, 2012.
On June 17, 2011, Mark Pierce and I obtained a record verdict for the children of Larry Hagerman in the amount of $6,820,000. Hagerman was an avionics technician who was attempting to troubleshoot a problem when the cabin door explosively opened because the pilot failed to recognize that the cabin was still pressurized while the aircraft was sitting on the ground. Hagerman later died from his head injuries.
The Hagerman verdict was recognized as the top aviation verdict in 2011. It appears that the Leduc verdict is already a contender for being a top verdict in 2012. Regardless of the verdicts, both cases underscore the danger to maintenance and ground support personnel when working around aircraft – and highlight the benefits of an experienced legal team.
– Michael Slack