As previously detailed in ANN, Parker-Hannifin has been fighting a
bizarre legal battle in which they have been held responsible (in
part) for the deaths of 3 people who's plane crashed... even though
no product of Parker-Hannifin's has actually been found to have
failed. The accident that started this intense legal battle took the
life of Gov. Mel Carnahan, his son and an aide.
Since NTSB investigative reports were not admissible in this
long-winded and expensive civil action (and since such actions do
not demand the same burden of proof needed in criminal
proceedings... only the ability to convince the majority of a jury),
Parker-Hannifin was successfully sued for (a portion of) a $4
million award on behalf of Carnahan's widow, Jean, and her surviving
children -- Robin, Thomas and Russell.
The accident changed the American political landscape. When the
unpressurized twin-engine Cessna 335 went down, Carnahan was running
for the Senate seat held by Republican John Ashcroft and actually
went on to win the election -- posthumously. Mrs. Carnahan was
appointed to the Senate until the next election, but lost her seat
in 2002 to a Republican challenger.
Randy Carnahan was in command of the flight and
while he was obviously
having problems with a primary attitude instrument (not made by
Parker), he admitted to having functioning primary and secondary
attitude references on another part of the panel (the aircraft being
equipped with a copilot's AI).
None-the-less, the aircraft apparently went down after experiencing
a loss of control. The accident was later ruled to have resulted
from pilot error (primarily) by the NTSB, after an extensive,
Early in 2004, a civil jury found Cleveland based Parker Hannifin
Corp. liable for $4 million, but rejected huge additional claims for
punitive damages (which were claimed at upwards of 100 million
Despite the NTSB's finding that no P-H component failed or was
directly contributory to the accident, well-known Aviation litigator
Gary Robb (pictured right) successfully argued an aggressive case
alleging that "faulty" vacuum pumps failed and created the
contributed to the fatal accident.
While Robb and the Carnahan family made noises about an appeal, a
recent statement by Robb seems to indicate that this legal battle is
finally over... "We believe justice was served," said Robb.
The aftermath of the case has become a rallying cry for continued
efforts to enact aggressive tort reform. Since there is no physical
evidence, whatsoever, pinning Parker-Hannifin to any aspect of the
crash, many see Robb's limited victory as a triumph of emotionalism
over legal fact and a stunning reason to demand legal reforms to
prevent similar verdicts from reoccurring.
FMI: www.parker.com, www.robbrobb.com