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Entries in Wrongful Death (2)

Monday
Aug132012

Lockheed Martin, Boeing Settle F-22 Fighter Wrongful Death Suit

U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Kasey Close(NEW YORK) -- Defense contracting giants Lockheed Martin and Boeing have settled a wrongful death lawsuit leveled against them by the widow of an F-22 fighter pilot killed in a crash shortly after his plane malfunctioned, a Boeing spokesperson said.

The settlement, first reported by Aviation Week, is the culmination of a suit filed in March against Lockheed Martin, Boeing and other major defense contractors involved in the plane's production by Anna Haney, the widow of Capt. Jeff Haney. Anna Haney accused the contractors of knowingly providing the Air Force a "dangerous" and "defective" aircraft.

"The matter has settled and the settlement terms are confidential," a Boeing spokesperson told ABC News. The spokesperson declined to comment further.

Capt. Haney, father of two young girls, had just completed a routine training mission in Alaska in November 2010 when his F-22 malfunctioned and cut off his oxygen. The plane went into a dive and, about a minute later, slammed into the winter wilderness at faster than the speed of sound.

After a months-long investigation, the Air Force released a report claiming, "by clear and convincing evidence" that Haney was to blame for the crash because he was essentially too distracted by his inability to breathe to fly the plane properly.

The Air Force said they did not believe Haney was unconscious due to lack of oxygen at any point in his ordeal -- a claim strongly disputed by his family and questioned by other F-22 pilots, aviation experts and the Pentagon's own Inspector General, who has launched a rare review of the Air Force investigation. Haney's family said it was more likely he had passed out due to lack of oxygen at least part of the time and, therefore, could not be held responsible for the crash.

"I'd like to think it's easier to blame Jeff. He's not here to defend himself," Jennifer Haney, Capt. Jeff Haney's sister and family spokesperson, told ABC News in an exclusive interview in May. "To them, Jeff was a number, it feels like sometimes. But those jets are worth a lot of money."

Jeff Haney's wife, Anna, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Lockheed Martin and other contractors involved in making the plane in March, charging that they were allowed full "latitude" in the details of the plane's design and were therefore responsible for the mishap that took Haney's life.

Lockheed Martin said at the time the lawsuit was filed that while Jeff Haney's death was a tragedy, the company disagreed with his widow's claims and would fight them in court. A Lockheed Martin spokesperson did not immediately respond to requests for comment on this report.

The F-22 Raptor, America's most expensive fighter jet at $420 million-a-piece, was the subject of an ABC News Nightline investigation after on more than two dozen occasions pilots reported experiencing the symptoms of oxygen deprivation in mid-air. In one instance, a pilot apparently became so disoriented that he flew down and skimmed treetops before righting the aircraft and saving himself.

The Air Force recently claimed to have solved the potentially deadly F-22 conundrum and maintains it was wholly separate from the malfunction that hit Haney's plane before his crash.

Despite going combat operational in late 2005, not one plane in the $79 billion fleet has been sent into combat. From Iraq and Afghanistan to last year's "no-fly zone" over Libya, the Air Force said the sophisticated stealth fighters simply weren't necessary.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jun122012

Texas Widow Sues Firm for Giving Drug Test to Dying Husband

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A Texas widow says in a lawsuit that her late husband's employer ordered a drug test on him as he lay dying on the floor -- and waited hours before calling 911.

Alejandra Perez, 56, said her husband, Benino, loved his job at Texas Industries (TXI), a cement and construction company.  After 38 years there, he was planning to retire in two weeks.  But then he had an accident at work, falling several feet and hitting his head.  He gradually lost consciousness and later died at a hospital.  He was 67.

Benino Perez was working as a loader and batch man at the company's Dallas headquarters on July 1, 2011, when the accident happened.

The suit, filed by Perez in a Texas district court on June 7, claims that while he "lay unconscious on the ground," a fellow employee ordered a drug test to be performed on him, and only after two hours were paramedics called. Perez said co-workers unzipped his pants and took urine from him.

"How could they do that?" she said in an interview with ABC News.  "Why did it take them so many hours to call the ambulance?  Even kids know how to do that."

Perez said her husband had just had a physical about a week prior to the accident and he was "fine."

She is suing the company for $15 million for actual and punitive damages, saying the company was negligent in failing to train employees and provide proper equipment, and for the wrongful death of her husband.

She and her lawyer said they are not sure why a drug test may have been given.

"There was a total lack of training and safety equipment for Mr. Perez on the date of the accident and reprehensible conduct on the part of a worker doing a drug test on an unconscious, dying employee instead of getting him immediate medical help," said Perez's attorney, Domingo Garcia.

"He died a pretty agonizing death," Garcia said, adding that Benino was on life support for several hours in the hospital before he died.  "It's been emotionally gut wrenching for the family, especially for his wife.  It's taken a very heavy emotional toll."

The company denies that he was given a drug test that delayed a call for an ambulance.

"No drug testing was performed prior to calling 911, nor was it made a prerequisite before medical attention was sought for Mr. Perez," said TXI in a statement.  "At any time when a TXI employee has immediate medical needs, the first and highest priority is to ensure that their needs are promptly met.  Any drug testing analysis would have been done under the care of the paramedics or at the hospital."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio