Sun 'n Fun Crash Widow Settles Lawsuit Against FAA

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The widow of a Texas pilot killed in a midair collision on final to Lakeland Linder Regional Airport the evening before the beginning of Sun 'n Fun in 2002 has settled her lawsuit with two defendants for a total of $700,000. Deborah Morrison is collecting $650,000 from the FAA and $50,000 from Sun 'n Fun's insurance company despite findings by the NTSB that both pilots ignored instructions from air traffic controllers, who saw the potential for a collision. Jerry Morrison was flying an RV-6 that was struck by a Piper Clipper (PA-16) flown by Stephen Pierce on final for Runway 27 right. The NTSB found Morrison ignored directions from ATC to slide left to line up with Runway 27 left and Pierce ignored instructions to "keep it high." The Piper's prop hit the RV-6's canopy and both planes went down. Pierce was seriously injured. The FAA didn't comment to the Lakeland Ledger on its decision to pay the settlement. Sun 'n Fun lawyer John Wendel said the fly-in's payment was a "business decision" and the organization has steadfastly denied any blame or involvement in the crash. Morrison also sued Pierce and the City of Lakeland. Pierce settled out of court for an unknown amount and the claim against Lakeland was dismissed.