Attorney Notes South Florida Juries Typically Pay Out More
There's another lawsuit
to tell you about in the August 27 takeoff accident involving a
Comair CRJ-100... but this one is different than the rest for a
couple of reasons.
Steven Marks, with the Podhurst Orseck law firm, has filed a
wrongful-death lawsuit in Broward County Circuit Court on behalf of
the family of Charles Lykins of Naples, FL, one of 49 people who
died in the crash. Defendants named in the complaint are Comair
Inc., a Delta Connection carrier; Delta Air Lines; and First
Officer James M. Polehinke, the plane's copilot.
This is the first lawsuit made public that names Polehinke, the
only survivor of the accident, as a defendant.
In its initial factual report on the crash,
the National Transportation Safety Board noted the CRJ100 regional
jet, which was cleared to take off from 7,000 foot-long Runway 22,
mistakenly departed from 3,500 foot-long Runway 26 (below). That
runway was not long enough for the loaded CRJ to take off
under conditions at the time of the accident, and the plane
subsequently hit a berm, caught fire, and came to rest in a field
off the departure end of the runway.
"In addition, it is clear that the flight crew made critical and
fatal mistakes," said Marks in a prepared statement. "Comair has
acknowledged publicly that its pilots were using an outdated
airport map in an attempt to make excuses for departing from the
wrong runway. Therefore, both the airline and its pilots are
clearly responsible for this tragedy despite what we are sure
will be efforts by their insurer and lawyers to blame others."
One reason the suit was filed in Broward County, Marks said, was
because Mr. Polehinke resides in Margate, FL. Another reason, the
law firm states, is that while other plantiffs have filed lawsuits
in Kentucky... jury verdicts are usually much higher in Florida,
and especially South Florida. The firm cites a $25.2 million jury
verdict Marks obtained in a lawsuit filed for the family of a pilot
killed in a midair collision as an example.
"We sought to avoid having Mr. Polehinke named as a party but
were unable to reach what we thought would be a routine stipulation
with the insurer," the attorney said.
Marks is no stranger to aviation accident-related lawsuits --
Podhurst Orseck says he has "represented victims in countless
significant major commercial and general aviation crashes." As Aero-News reported, he is
also representing families of passengers onboard the Siberia
Airlines plane that crashed in the Russian Federation on July
Marks has also represented the families of passengers on a
Chalk's Ocean Airways seaplane that crashed in Miami Beach, FL in
December 2005, as well as the 1996 crash of ValuJet Flight 592 into
the Florida Everglades.
Podhurst Orseck, P.A. is based in Miami, FL, and concentrates
exclusively in trial and appellate litigation.