In response to media inquiries, Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi L.L.P. ("RKM&C") confirmed that wrongful death claims involving the passengers on the fatal Eveleth plane crash of October 25, 2002 have been settled with the companies that owned and operated the charter plane.
The settlements are for the deaths of Senator Paul Wellstone; his wife, Sheila Wellstone; their daughter, Marcia Wellstone Markuson; and three campaign staff members, Mary McEvoy, Thomas Lapic, and William McLaughlin.
"The Eveleth crash took the lives of six extraordinary passengers whose lives had been devoted to their families and to their belief that politics is an honorable profession intended to serve the public good. They saw America as a beacon lighting the path to a more just world. They believed that all Americans should have the opportunity to reach their full potential and not be hindered by inadequate schools, health care or housing. This country is poorer as a result of their unnecessary and untimely deaths," said Michael Ciresi of RKM&C.
The settling companies are Aviation Charters, Inc., Beech Transportation, Inc. and Executive Aviation, and their officers, employees and affiliated entities.
RKM&C's investigation determined, at this time, that the crash was caused by pilot error in failing to maintain appropriate power and airspeed. The lack of competence of the crew was a result of, among other things, their negligent hiring, supervision, training and retention. The weather on October 25, 2002, while not optimum, should not have presented a problem to competently trained and supervised pilots. There has been no credible evidence to support any so-called conspiracy theory of the crash.
RKM&C conducted its own investigation and retained experts, who, among other things, analyzed the factual reports of the National Transportation Safety Board ("NTSB"). (The NTSB has issued factual reports but has not yet issued its probable cause determination of the crash.)
The settlements are with the affiliated aviation companies noted above and not with any other parties.
The settlement amounts for the six deaths total the insurance limits of $25 million (less a nominal amount previously paid from the coverage to the owner of the crash site, which is not reflected in the numbers below). The six individual settlements break down as follows:
|Senator Paul Wellstone
Certain aspects of the settlements are subject to court approval. Distributions of the settlement amounts to individual next-of-kin are considered a private matter.
The families were represented by Michael V. Ciresi, Roberta B. Walburn, Vincent J. Moccio and Philip Sieff of RKM&C. The families have requested that the media not attempt to contact them and to direct any inquires to Mr. Ciresi.