Personal Injury Case Results
Record settlement in fatal helicopter crash
A medical helicopter crash in Norfolk that killed three people in 2002 has led to the largest wrongful death settlement in Nebraska history.
Lancaster County District Court Judge Steven Burns accepted the terms of the $18.4 million settlement Tuesday, said Gary C. Robb of Kansas City, Mo., an attorney representing the families of those who died.
Killed in the crash were emergency room nurse Lori Schrempp, 41, of Yankton, S.D.; pilot Phil Herring, 43, of Lincoln; and paramedic Patrick Scollard, 40, of Sioux City, Iowa.
Co-counsel for the families, Vince Powers of Lincoln, described the settlement as the largest in the state’s history by a “significant factor.” Powers is a former president of the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys.
The size of the settlement is a reflection, Powers said, of the quality of the people who lost their lives. Nebraska, he said, does not allow punitive awards but instead requires that an award be “compensatory” and examine what was lost with the loss of the lives.
“These were three people engaged in life-saving efforts; they’re the best (we) had,” he said.
Robb said another factor in the size of the settlement was that those on the helicopter knew for about 30 to 45 seconds that they would die. Nebraska, he said, allows apprehension of death to be a factor in the size of a settlement.
An attorney representing the defendants could not be reached for comment. Responsibility for the settlement will be split among several defendants, with Eurocopter France paying a significant portion, Robb said.
The LifeNet of the Heartland helicopter had just left a Norfolk hospital June 21, 2002, when it crashed at the airport.
The National Transportation Safety Board determined that the likely cause of the crash was a problem with the tail ro tor, gusty winds and the pilot’s failure to maintain control of the helicopter.
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