Kreindler Successfully Brings Claims on Behalf of Family of Disney CEO Killed in Heli-Ski Crash
Kreindler successfully represented the family of the President and CEO of the Walt Disney Co. following the fatal crash of a Bell 206B3 Jet Ranger during a Heli-Ski trip in Ruby Mountains, Nevada. Our partners brought claims against the operator of the aircraft for the pilot’s negligent operation and against the manufacturer for improper warnings and defects which caused a loss of engine power due to the ingestion of super cooled water pellets. The record-setting Wrongful Death settlement is confidential.
Others involved in the crash included Mike Hoover - the first camera man to climb Mount Everest and Beverly Johnson - the first woman to climb El Cap, and 2 ski guides. Also on the Heli-skiing trip, but flying in a separate helicopter, were two of our client’s children and actor Clint Eastwood.
The NTSB government investigation found that the helicopter operator, Nevada-based aircraft provider El Aero Services, was responsible for the crash because snow had been allowed to fill the engine’s air intake while the helicopter was parked. However, the operator had limited insurance coverage that would be insufficient to appropriately compensate the victims in the crash.
Kreindler’s independent investigation in this case revealed that the manufacturer, Bell Helicopter Textron, knew that small quantities of snow inside the intake could lead to an engine failure. We constructed a full-scale model of the engine intake and showed that the manufacturer failed to provide the means to prevent snow from entering the intake and that an operator had no proper means to check for and remove snow. Our work resulted in a substantial, confidential settlement from the manufacturer. The litigation also resulted in changes by the manufacturer which should prevent such failures in the future from Bell aircraft.
This case is an excellent example of the importance of conducting our own independent investigation into the cause of a crash.
It is imperative while representing a plaintiff to conduct an independent investigation to either confirm the NTSB findings or take issue with them. Our firm has successfully launched accident investigations that were able to find the cause or contributing factors to a crash, even when the official government investigation did not determine the actual cause.
Kreindler partners understanding the unique aspects of heli-ski operations and their associated operating environment was critical to determining the causes of the crash and ultimately successfully representing our client.