Carnahan Jury's Award Refutes NTSB Findings?
Parker Hannifin Corp., maker of vacuum pumps on the Cessna 335 that crashed, killing a Missouri governor, has been ordered to pay a total of $4 million in damages to his family even though the NTSB's summary of the investigation says, "examination of the wreckage ... indicates [the pumps] were most likely functioning at the time of impact." Gov. Mel Carnahan, his son Randy, who was at the controls, and aide Chris Sifford died when the plane crashed near Hillsboro, Mo., on Oct. 16, 2000. Carnahan's family sued Parker Hannifin Corp. even though the NTSB's report cited spatial disorientation as a probable cause with a faulty attitude indicator as a contributing factor. Parker Hannifin says it's been vindicated by the verdict and doesn't plan to appeal. Sure, read that again. "It's clear to us this was a compromise verdict," said Parker Hannifin spokeswoman Lorrie Paul Crum. "We came here not for money but to vindicate Parker's good name, and we feel that's been accomplished with this verdict." Shortly after takeoff, Randy Carnahan told air traffic controllers the primary attitude indicator had failed and he was using the co-pilot's instrument to help maintain control in IMC, according to the NTSB report. The right-side instrument was apparently working normally, indicating there was vacuum to the instrument, said the report. Investigators theorized that the pilot's head movements in trying to read the right-side instrument led to the spatial disorientation. But Carnahan's family insist the pumps were to blame and, based on the jury's verdict, they want the FAA to order them removed from thousands of aircraft. "We hope the FAA will follow the lead of this jury, which found the vacuum pumps were unsafe and were killing people," said Carnahan's widow Jean. "I want the killing to stop." Carnahan's lawyer had told the jury that failed vacuum pumps had caused 20 plane crashes, killing 48 people, between 1981 and 1998.