BBGA shareholders Drew Hill, Jim Matthews, and Lee Atkinson recently settled a case against a county airport, an aircraft owner, and the company providing the owner a flight crew, for a confidential amount. The case was for a client who was seriously injured when an aircraft jet engine blast knocked her down, causing a severe traumatic brain injury.
Plane Engine Blast Causes Serious Head Injury
Our client traveled a lot for work. She typically flew in a small jet operated by her company’s flight crew. On the date of her injury, a much larger jet landed to drop off a passenger before proceeding on another trip. The larger jet was parked by airport employees about 140 feet in front of our client’s work plane. Upon being parked, the pilot of the large jet had shut off its left engine and had deplaned its passenger with its right engine still running.
After some time, airport employees authorized our client and six of her coworkers to proceed out onto the airport ramp to board their plane. As the group passed the rear of the larger plane, the captain of that plane restarted its left jet engine and allegedly used excessive power to taxi the aircraft out of its ramp parking spot heading out onto the runway.
The excessive jet blast knocked our client and one of her coworkers up into the air and onto the concrete ramp. Our client landed on her head and sustained a traumatic brain injury, as well as other injuries.
Our client suffered a fractured skull which caused an epidural hematoma and a subdural hematoma, which are essentially areas where blood has pooled on the brain. She also suffered a fractured left collar bone, multiple abrasions, and a sinus fracture.
The blunt force impact of the incident caused our client to suffer facial nerve paresis, tinnitus, unsteadiness, headaches, dizziness, vertigo, difficulty sleeping, and head and facial hyperactive nerve pain. She also struggles with the inability to focus, attention deficits, mental fatigue, short-term memory problems, increased anxiety, and problem-solving difficulties.
Details of the Case
In the case, we alleged the airport had a legal duty to keep our client and other visitors safe on their premises. Personnel at the airport unlocked the door leading out to the ramp and then authorized our client and her coworkers to walk out onto the ramp. The Federal Aviation Administration and the airport have various safety rules and regulations in place to help prevent incidents like this. One such rule states that “no person may operate an aircraft in a careless or reckless manner so as to endanger the life or property of another.” Another rule states that there should be “reasonable protection of persons and property from aircraft blast.”
While airport personnel did marshal the large plane into a parking place, after the large jet dropped off its passenger, no one marshaled it out of the ramp area. The pilot of the large plane said he applied normal breakaway power to move the plane out of its parking place, but multiple witnesses testified the pilot used “excessive force,” which in their opinion caused an excessive blast.
To secure a fair settlement, we focused on the extent of our client’s injuries and that they were a direct result of the negligent actions of airport employees and the pilot of the larger plane. We argued that our client was entitled to recover for personal injuries and future mental and physical pain and suffering.