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Family of Woman Killed in Plane Crash Settles Suit For $5.25 Million

Wheeling Resident Married for Only 26 Days at Time of Crash
December 4, 2004

The estate of Catherine Anderson, who was killed on October 30, 1996 in a plane crash at Wheeling's Palwaukee airport, today settled her wrongful death lawsuit for $5.2 million. Her lawsuit was brought against Alberto-Culver, Inc. and Aon Corporation, companies that each provided pilots for the flight.

Ms. Anderson was represented by Michael K. Demetrio and Daniel S. Kirschner of Corboy & Demetrio.

Anderson, 33, was the flight attendant on a private plane carrying two pilots and Arthur Quern, 54, the chief executive officer of Aon Risk Corporation and the chair of the Illinois Board of Higher Education. The Gulfstream IV was taking off for California when it suddenly veered to the left of the runway and onto the grass. The jet skidded along the ground as the landing gear and pieces of the wing broke apart. The plane then lifted off the ground for several seconds, crossed two nearby roads and then crashed, bursting into flames. All four people on board were killed.

Demetrio brought a four-count lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court against Alberto Culver, Inc., which owned the plane and Aon Corporation, which was leasing the plane for its chief executive. The National Transportation Safety Board's report on the crash determined that the cause of the crash was pilot error and the cockpit voice recorder indicated that there was some disagreement between the pilots about the take-off. The plane's pilots, Larry Koppie, 53 of the Aon Corporation and Robert Whitener, 50, of Alberto-Culver, were both at the controls as the plane tried to become airborne.

Ms. Anderson was a flight attendant for American Airlines who worked on private flights during her days off. A graduate of Wheeling High School, Catherine had married Craig Anderson, now 44 years old and a real estate broker, only 26 days before the crash. The couple had just returned from their honeymoon when Catherine was killed.

Opening statement in lawsuits on behalf of other plaintiffs in the case began on Friday.

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