Widow to Get $8.5M After Husband Dies in Crash

     (CN) – A federal judge approved an $8.5 million settlement in the case of a widow who claimed contractor negligence led to the death of her helicopter pilot husband in a U.S. Army training exercise.
     Jeremy Clark, a 38-year-old husband and father of two, was a civilian helicopter flight instructor employed by the Army. He died in a crash at Ft. Rucker, Alabama in 2010.
     In a wrongful death suit originally filed in the Dale County, Ala. Circuit Court in November 2012, Jennifer Clark, the pilot’s widow, claimed Rolls-Royce, L-3 Communications Corp., Army Fleet Support and others were negligent in maintaining the copter in which her husband died.
     Clark claimed that on Dec. 9, 2010, the Bell OH-58D Kiowa helicopter her husband was piloting experienced at engine control failure that caused the engine to be stuck in its high-power setting.
     Despite this, Jeremy Clark was able to land the helicopter at Fort Rucker and ask employees of the defendants to look into the failure and make any necessary repairs.
     According to the complaint, the defendants inspected the helicopter at least twice over the next four days, but failed to identify the problem. Nevertheless, the helicopter was placed back into service.
     On Dec. 14, 2010, Clark was assigned to the helicopter for a training flight with a student pilot. During the flight, the engine control system failed again, but this time it locked the engine into a low-power setting, the complaint said.
     As a result, Jennifer Clark said, “the failure was not recoverable.”
     “The helicopter crashed into a wooded area, killing Jeremy Clark and severely injuring the student pilot,” the complaint said.
     The defendants denied liability for the crash, but ultimately reached a settlement with the widow.
     Rolls Royce and its employee, defendant Joey Bamberger, agreed to settle the claims against them for $8 million.
     L-3 Communications Corp. and Army Fleet Support settled the remaining claims for $500,000.
     After coming to terms on the settlement, the parties jointly filed a motion requesting that documents and other records related to the fairness hearing proceedings be seals.
     U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson denied the request in part, holding that “because this lawsuit involves the crash of a U.S. Army helicopter at an Army base and the alleged negligence of government contractors paid with public money, this lawsuit does to some extent involve a matter of public concern.”
     However, Thompson did agree to seal two documents that contain the full names of the Clarks’ minor children.
     Representatives of the parties did not respond to a request for comment from Courthouse News.

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