Iowa Jury Awards $11.4 Million in Helicopter Crash Case

July 15, 2009

A jury in Iowa has awarded $11.4 million to the widow of a cameraman and to an injured film producer after determining that pilot error caused a helicopter crash during a movie shoot.

Six of the seven jurors determined that pilot Richard Green was at fault for the June 2006 crash near the eastern Iowa town of Walford. The helicopter he was piloting hit a power line and slammed into a cornfield. The Polk County jury cleared Bristol Aerospace, a Canadian aircraft part-maker of any wrongdoing.

During the month-long trial, plaintiffs argued a windshield-mounted wire cutter designed to slice through power lines manufactured by Bristol Aerospace had been shortened and dulled to cut costs.
Jurors awarded $7.2 million to the widow of Roland Schlotzhauer of Lenexa, Kan., and $4.2 million to producer Tony Wilson, who suffered extensive injuries.

Jurors declared Green was 75 percent responsible for the crash, while two producers for “The Final Season” were 25 percent responsible.

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