Federal Jury Finds American Eagle Liable for the Crash of One of Its Commuter Planes
February 6, 1998
Late yesterday afternoon, a federal jury in Greensboro, North Carolina, found that AMR Eagle, Inc., a subsidiary of AMR Corp. and the commuter arm of American Airlines, is responsible for the December 13, 1994, crash of one of its commuter airplanes in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina. AMR Eagle, Inc. has continuously denied responsibility for the crash, which killed 15 and injured 5, according to Michael K. Demetrio of Chicago's Corboy & Demetrio, who had been appointed by the Federal Court for the Middle District of North Carolina as lead counsel for plaintiffs and was lead trial attorney.
Michael K. Demetrio, along with Thomas A. Demetrio and Robert A. Clifford, represent six of the nine victims whose cases were partially tried in North Carolina this week. Michael Demetrio stated: "Throughout the three years since the crash, AMR Eagle, Inc. has used every tactic it could imagine to avoid responsibility for the crash of this plane. In the final analysis, the jury found precisely what we've been saying all along: AMR Eagle should and will be held accountable for this crash."
Until yesterday, AMR Eagle had been promoting the position that its regional carrier, Flagship Airlines, was the only entity which should answer for the crash. AMR Eagle, Inc. operates small commuter aircraft all over the country under the American Airlines trademark name "American Eagle." "Nobody has ever heard of these small regional outfits owned and operated by AMR Eagle, and that's done on purpose," Demetrio added. "AMR Eagle makes its money by convincing travelers that American is operating the aircraft - and in fact it does. AMR Eagle's surprising position - saying 'it's not our plane' - was disingenuous, and the jury recognized that."
Five Chicago area residents were killed in the crash, and two were injured. Trying the case with Michael Demetrio in North Carolina were W. Thompson Comerford of Maready, Comerford and Britt, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, local counsel, and David Rapoport of Rapoport & Kupets in Rosemont, Illinois, who represents one family.
Demetrio added, "The next step in these six cases will be to bring them back to Chicago for trials on compensatory damages and the determination of American Airlines' liability." American Airlines has also denied any liability for the judicially established negligence of its commuter airplane operated by Flagship Airlines.
The plaintiffs' claims for punitive damages will soon be presented to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, the judicial circuit in which the cases are currently pending. Resolution of that issue is expected sometime later this year.