Helicopter maker settles La. lawsuits over 2009 crash that killed 8

Marilyn Tennissen Nov. 15, 2011, 5:42am

Sikorsky S-76C helicopter

NEW ORLEANS — The maker of a helicopter that crashed into a Louisiana swamp in 2009, killing eight people, has agreed to settlements with families of several crash victims who filed federal suits against the company.

Stratford, Conn.-based Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. reached agreements in late October with relatives of at least five victims who died and with the crash's lone survivor, according to The Associated Press.

Paul Sterbcow, a lawyer for crash survivor Steven Yelton, said financial terms are confidential, the article states.

A federal trial in New Orleans was scheduled to start Nov. 7 for relatives' claims against Sikorsky, but Sterbcow said the trial won't be necessary if the company settles with remaining plaintiffs.

Other relatives' claims against Sikorsky are pending in Alabama and Texas.

In May 2009, the family of Ezequiel Cantu Jr., a passenger in the helicopter, filed suit against Sikorsky in Jefferson County.

According to the original complaint, the Sikorsky S-76C helicopter was about seven minutes into a flight when it crashed in a swamp near Morgan City, La., on Jan. 4, 2009.

According to The Associated Press, investigators concluded a bird struck the helicopter before it crashed.

The Cantu suit alleges the helicopter crashed because its owner, PHI, replaced the original windshield with a lightweight cast acrylic windshield designed by Aeronautical Accessories.

Sikorsky is liable, the plaintiffs claim, because at the time it sold the helicopter it failed to warn of the dangers of replacing a windshield, failed to warn of dangers associated with the helicopter, failed to disclose known problems and defects and marketed the helicopter as safe when it was not.

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