Arthur Alan Wolk
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The Wolk Law Firm: Aviation Safety is Our Profession

While most settlement amounts are required as a condition of resolution to be kept confidential the facts and amounts received from cases successfully resolved without caption identification and amounts of verdicts are not. The Wolk Law Firm tradition of excellence dates back to the early 1970’s when its founder Arthur Alan Wolk started his flying career and his legal specialization in the field of air crash litigation. Hundreds of successful settlements and trials later generating over a billion dollars in verdicts and settlements in courtrooms all over America are the tradition of excellence that continues to this day. The Wolk Law Firm is proud to summarize just some of its successful results.


$53 Million Verdict Awarded in Florida Cessna 150 Crash
$1.5 Million in Punitive Damages also Awarded to Flight Instructor and Student Pilot
Arthur Alan Wolk, together with Philip J. Ford and Cheryl DeLisle of The Wolk Law Firm, and Terence R. Perkins, of Smith, Hood, Perkins, Loucks, Stout & Orfinger in Daytona Beach, obtained the largest aviation verdict ever in Volusia County, Fla. on July 26, 2007. The jury returned a verdict of more than $53 million in compensatory damages, allocating 70 percent to Precision Airmotive, LLC, maker of aircraft carburetors, and 30 percent to Teledyne Continental Motors and Teledyne Technologies, makers of aircraft engines. The jury also returned a $1.5 million verdict in punitive damages against Precision. The trial ended, and the verdict was handed down, nearly eight years to the day after the Cessna 150 training aircraft crashed when its Teledyne engine failed on a nighttime takeoff from the Ormond Beach Municipal Airport in Florida. The crash severely injured the two occupants– a flight instructor and a student pilot. The occupants suffered facial injuries which required extensive reconstructive surgery, and both individuals suffered years of depression and anxiety from post traumatic stress disorder. Both victims were working towards airline careers and as a result of their injuries, were foreclosed from that occupation.

1971 Hortman vs. Piper
Successful settlement due to the crash of a Piper Cherokee Six in the mountains of Virginia. The aircraft was flown by a 39,000 hour retired airline pilot. The Wolk Law firm proved that the 15% concentration of carbon monoxide in the victim’s blood was due to a leaking cabin heater muffler rendering the pilot unconscious at cruising altitude of 9,500 feet. Cause of the accident was the choice of stainless steel for the muffler by Piper which knew that the material was brittle and could fail without warning.

1973 Rauch vs. United Instruments
This was the first successful aviation class action brought to reimburse owners of defective aircraft altimeters the cost of modifications to improve their resistance to jamming.

1984 Harper vs. Cessna
This was the first of the seat slip accident trials that resulted in punitive damages against Cessna. The Wolk Law Firm represented two of the victims of this single engine airplane crash that was caused by a defective seat latch that allowed the pilot’s seat to slip backwards on takeoff. The sudden movement of the seat was proved to have caused a loss of control, pitching the airplane up and then suddenly down causing the deaths of three of the four occupants and serious injuries to a fourth occupant. It was proved that Cessna had hundreds of reports of similar accidents and did nothing to remedy the problem. The jury awarded twenty-nine million three hundred thousand dollars ($29,300,000) in compensatory and punitive damages.

1989 Bealer vs. United Airlines
This was one of many passenger cases handled by the Wolk law firm arising out of the crash of United 232, a McDonnell Douglas DC-10 that crashed in an Iowa cornfield following an explosion in its tail mounted engine. The shrapnel tore the three hydraulic lines apart and the aircraft became uncontrollable. Thanks to the courageous efforts of a DC-10 check airman riding in the back, who came forward to help, many were saved, although 110 were lost. The plaintiff in this case was a newlywed who lost her husband. The case was settled before trial. Arthur Alan Wolk is credited with disclosing the exact cause of this crash on Larry King Live within three hours of the accident.

1989 Murray vs. General Electric Company
This trial was the only one actually taken to verdict arising out of the crash of United 232. The plaintiff was a flight attendant whose principal injury was post traumatic stress disorder. She was too afraid to fly as a crewmember after experiencing the terror of the United 232 disaster. Verdicts in such cases had not exceeded $125,000 before a jury in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania awarded the plaintiff one million three hundred thousand dollars ($1,300,000). This verdict remains the largest ever in aviation for post traumatic stress disorder.

1989 Caption Confidential
This six million dollar ($6,000,000) settlement was paid for the loss of a pilot whose aircraft crashed on approach to an airport when dirt contaminated the fuel control and caused an engine to roll back to flight idle. The manufacturer was required to issue a corrective service bulletin as part of the settlement.

1989 Schofield vs. Piper Aircraft Corporation
A jury awarded the parents of a young pilot the largest verdict for loss of a child by parents who were not dependent. The six million dollar ($6,000,000) verdict arose from the crash of a Piper Aztec on approach in bad weather when one of the wing flaps suddenly retracted due to the failure of a part that had failed repeatedly in the past.

1990 Datskow vs. Teledyne
In this case tried before a jury in Rochester New York, an award of one hundred seven million dollars ($107,000,000) was given for the deaths of a family of four who burned alive when their single engine airplane crashed in Winston Salem North Carolina. The Wolk Law Firm proved that Teledyne, knowing that the engine it supplied for the victims’ aircraft was dangerously defective, continued to urge the pilot to fly the airplane. The engine caught fire just before landing and the airplane crashed killing all aboard.

1991 Bodnar vs. The Boeing Company
This claim arose from the crash of a Boeing 737 at Colorado Springs Colorado when the rudder suddenly went hard over while the aircraft maneuvered for a landing at the Colorado Springs Airport. Boeing denied that such a failure could even occur and The Wolk Law Firm not only established that it could and did but discovered through hard fought litigation that Boeing knew about it, knew the means to fix it, had done nothing to correct the problem and continued to build Boeing 737’s with the same defect. It was also established that Boeing deliberately misled both the FAA and the NTSB about the cause of this accident continually denying that such a failure mode could occur. The Wolk Law Firm purchased a rudder control unit and tested it to failure proving that both Boeing, the designer of the rudder control system and Parker Hannifin, its manufacturer were not truthful about the failure modes of the system. The National Transportation Safety Board adopted The Wolk Law Firm’s version of the accident cause. Boeing settled as did Parker Hannifin. The defendants had claimed that a sudden windstorm called a rotor rolled the aircraft over and caused the accident. Arthur Alan Wolk engaged the services of the German scientist who coined the term “rotor” who made short work of the defendants’ fictional account of the cause of the accident. Arthur Alan Wolk again while the smoke was still rising from the crash correctly identified its cause on CNN’s Larry King Live.

1994 Hamley vs. The Boeing Company
This case arose due to the death of a flight attendant aboard USAIR Flight 427, a Boeing 737 that crashed outside Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. The cause of the crash was yet another rudder hard over from the very same cause as resulted in the crash of United Flight 585 in Colorado Springs just three years before. All the while the Wolk Law Firm kept telling the NTSB that another crash would happen if the Boeing 737 was not fixed and after the Boeing Company countered that it and not The Wolk Law Firm knew the B-737 best, this crash occurred killing another 133 people. The Wolk law firm established once again that it was the rudder actuator that failed in precisely the same way as it had in Colorado and this time both the FAA and the NTSB required that changes be made in the rudder control of the Boeing 737. Video of the failure modes that Boeing and Parker Hannifin denied could happen were prepared by the Wolk Law Firm and provided to the NTSB. The case was settled. Arthur Alan Wolk correctly identified the cause of this crash on various media within hours after the crash. 

1994 Caption Confidential
This settlement of three million two hundred and fifty thousand dollars was paid for the death of a pilot who died when his aircraft crashed due to engine failure while he was on a narcotics eradication mission. 

1995 Caption Confidential
A four million ($4,000,000) dollar settlement was obtained for the loss of a young wife and infant child in the crash of an airliner. The Wolk Law firm established the manufacturer of the aircraft had improperly obtained certification for flight into known icing conditions and that others had experienced loss of control under similar conditions. 

1999 Caption Confidential
This twelve million five hundred thousand dollar ($12,500,000) settlement arose from the crash of an airliner due to control problems. It was paid to a wife and her two small children for the death of a business executive. The risk of trial was averted that would have exposed the manufacturer and the airline of deliberately violating the Federal Aviation regulations in the design, manufacture and maintenance of the aircraft. 

2001 Cassoutt vs. Cessna Aircraft Company
This case is the largest aviation verdict of all time. A Pensacola Florida jury awarded four hundred and eighty million dollars ($480,000,000) against Cessna Aircraft Company for another seat slip that caused two passengers to be severely burned and another to be crippled for life. The Wolk Law Firm proved that Cessna, in spite of being punished twenty years before in the Harper case continued to allow unsafe pilots’ seats to be used in its aircraft and did nothing to retrofit those aircraft with features to prevent the seat slip before the occurrence of this accident years later. The verdict was some eighty million compensatory and four hundred million in punitive damages. 

2002 Schelpert vs. Egyptair
This was one of many cases The Wolk Law Firm handled arising from the tragic sabotage of Egyptair Flight 990 by its co-pilot. In what would be one of the earlier acts of terrorism preceding 9/11, and it was established by Arthur Wolk as one of the lead litigators on the plaintiffs’ steering committee that there was no mechanical cause that could explain the sudden gyrations of the Boeing 767 that preceded its break-up and crash into the Atlantic Ocean. It was also established that the co-pilot had a history of mental instability that was ignored by Egyptian authorities before the crash. In this instance The Wolk Law Firm represented the families of five persons who died in the crash. In one of the only cases tried from that accident, The Wolk Law Firm recovered more than two million dollars in a bench trial in a Federal Court in Los Angeles. 

2002 Taylor vs. Teledyne
This accident occurring near the Hartsfield International Airport in Atlanta arose from defects in engines overhauled by Teledyne. The crew reported engine trouble and was returning to the airport when the aircraft crashed and burned killing the two pilots. The very favorable settlement occurred after The Wolk Law Firm was brutally attacked by defense counsel and the defendant. Notwithstanding the most horrific abuse ever visited upon a lawyer, Arthur Alan Wolk persisted and was successful in resolving the case to the great benefit of his clients. The Wolk Law Firm will never be intimidated. 

2002 Caption Confidential
This seventeen million two hundred thousand dollar ($17,200,000) settlement arose out of the crash of an executive jet. The crash was caused by a maintenance company’s failure to properly reassemble the horizontal stabilizer components following an inspection. The victim was a well known entrepreneur who had invented a number of innovative devices. He was survived by a wife and three adult children. 

2003 Blanton vs. Precision
This six million dollar ($6,000,000) verdict arose from the crash of a single engine Cessna airplane that suffered engine failure shortly after takeoff due to a defective carburetor. The Wolk Law Firm proved that Precision, the manufacturer had a long history of carburetor caused engine failures and failed to do anything to fix the myriad of problems with their carburetors. The plaintiff was the wife of the victim who died instantly in the crash. 

2003 Caption Confidential
This settlement arose from the crash of an airliner that had been overloaded. The evidence established that the weights being used to calculate passengers’ weights were grossly understated. The risk for a trial was that airlines would be exposed for flying virtually every flight with illegally overloaded aircraft. The settlement amount was five million dollars and was for the wife and adult child of a businessman who died in the crash. 

2004 Kanter vs. Flying Tigers
Three persons lost their lives in the crash of a Piper Saratoga when the aircraft disintegrated in flight due in part to spatial disorientation of the pilot from the loss of the sources that supply power to the aircraft’s instruments. The system is designed to supply vacuum to drive gyroscopic instruments but when the primary pump failed, the secondary system that’s supposed to take over failed as well due to deteriorated gaskets and a defective valve to maintain vacuum. The Wolk Law Firm also established that the way the secondary system was designed, use of it further added to the disorientation of the pilot flying in bad weather and contributed to the loss of situational awareness. One of the defendants claimed it did no business in Pennsylvania and after extensive discovery, The Wolk Law Firm established that the defendant had filed false documents and affidavits with the court. The case was later settled. 

2004 Caption Confidential
This case involved the crash of an airliner that was overloaded and out of its center of gravity limits. Control was lost on takeoff and the crash killed all aboard including a businessman who was survived by his wife and two teenage children. The settlement was eight million five hundred thousand ($8,500,000) dollars. 

2004 Walker vs. Segal
This landmark verdict established liability on the pilot of an aircraft who had made a nuisance of himself on the radio, so distracting an air traffic controller that she failed to give appropriate guidance to an aircraft that ultimately collided with another killing the pilot. The victim who was survived by a wife was awarded two million one hundred thousand ($2,100,000) dollars by the jury.

2005 Sheesley vs. Capitol City Air Carrier
This South Dakota state court case arose out of the crash of a Cessna 340 twin engine aircraft as a result of an in flight fire from a broken turbocharger exhaust pipe that caused fuel interruption. The Wolk law firm proved that a bad weld in the pipe allowed exhaust gases to leak past the pipe flange and impact the firewall next to the crossover fuel lines. The heat caused the fuel in the lines to boil and interrupt the fuel supply to the engines causing the crash that killed three. After putting on the plaintiffs’ evidence the defense settled as did another defendant who watched the

2005 Buschmann vs. City of Little Rock
The victim of this crash of a McDonnell Douglas MD-82 was none other than the Captain of the airliner. He died when the aircraft he was piloting left the runway at the Little Rock International Airport in a downpour and struck steel approach light supports placed illegally in what should have been an unobstructed runway safety area. At trial, the Wolk Law Firm established that the Little Rock Airport Authority and the City of Little Rock knew that it was vital to maintain a 1000 by 500 foot runway safety area free of obstructions just in case an aircraft left the runway. Instead they used political pressure on the FAA to install the approach light system with non-frangible steel poles. When the aircraft left the runway that stormy night, it was torn to shreds by the structures that shouldn’t have been there. Previous to the trial the dead pilot was blamed for failing to arm the spoilers before landing, failing to use adequate braking and failing to uniformly apply reverse thrust to stop the aircraft. The evidence obtained by The Wolk Law Firm showed that the spoilers were armed, the engines were out of synch and thus spooled differentially and the brakes were also not functioning properly. All of these maintenance deficiencies it was proved had existed for months before that fatal flight and were not repaired by American Airlines. The jury awarded over two million dollars to the pilot’s family.

2005 Eigen vs. Precision
This case was settled during the trial when it became apparent that a defense witness had falsified documents after the accident. The deaths of three members of the Eigen family occurred when the carburetor on their Piper Cherokee caused an engine failure during an attempted go around at the Mount Snow Vermont airport. Precision and its lawyers told the jury that the engine did not fail and later in post trial proceedings it was learned that they stated the engine in fact failed. One of the lawyers representing Precision was so angry that he had to pay in yet another Precision case, he leveled false charges against The Wolk Law Firm that later proved to be entirely fabricated. Precision wound up paying the full amount of the settlement plus interest and agreed not to engage in such behavior again. The Wolk Law Firm will never be intimidated.

2005 Caption Confidential
A seven million ($7,000,000) dollar settlement was obtained for a business executive killed when the engine on his turboprop aircraft failed due to mis-assembly by an overhauler. The engines were assembled with incorrect parts that caused engine failure before the crash.

2006 Terry vs. Teledyne
This case was settled after direct examination of the first witness and was a claim by three sisters who lost a fourth in the crash of a Cessna airplane due to a defective magneto manufactured by the defendant Teledyne. The aircraft crashed into the waters off Riverside California as it lost power just as the pilot was climbing to his cruising altitude. Two occupants drowned while the pilot lived. The court ruled that Teledyne’s history of felony convictions could be offered into evidence to prove its lack of credibility. Teledyne claimed that the magneto failure never occurred and the multiple breaks in the springs inside were due to its immersion in salt water for a day. The court scoffed at that explanation since that model magneto had a long history of broken springs that caused engine failures none of which aircraft crashed into the water.

2006 Randolph vs. Cessna
This successful settlement arose from the crash of a Cessna Caravan single engine turbine aircraft. The Wolk Law Firm hired the University of Texas to perform wind tunnel studies of the Cessna Caravan to determine why so many were crashing in only light to moderate icing conditions. The results were astounding. The research proved, the wing design, the deicing system design, the tail configuration and the flight manual were all defective. The Wolk Law Firm established that Cessna had deliberately misled the FAA and the NTSB about the flaws in the Cessna Caravan icing certification. The research has been made available publicly to fulfill another of the Wolk Law Firm’s goals, improvement in aviation safety.

2006 Jorgensen vs. Cessna
This settlement resulted from the death of a young executive being transported across the country in a corporate jet. The aircraft was making an approach to Pueblo Colorado to refuel when it suddenly rolled and crashed killing all aboard. The Wolk Law Firm determined the cause of the crash to be airframe icing due to the inadequacy of the equipment provided for the aircraft’s known icing certification by Cessna and the decision to fly that ill-equipped aircraft into the mountains for a fuel stop when the weather was conducive to moderate icing encounters. The Wolk Law Firm continues to emphasize to Government and industry that the standards and practices that allow inadequately equipped aircraft to fly in known icing conditions are unacceptable. The settlement allowed this outstanding young man’s family to recognize how valuable others believed him to be and the magnitude of his loss to them.