Bell Helicopter Goes To Court over Crash Deaths of Paramedics
Bell Helicopter must face trial over the deaths of three paramedics killed in a 1998 helicopter crash in Los Angeles, after the California Supreme Court declined to hear the company’s appeal. The widows of the paramedics sued Bell, claiming that the crash was caused by a defective tail-rotor yoke that broke as the helicopter was trying to transport an injured child to a hospital. The child also died. Bell initially won dismissal of the suit by citing the federal law that bars claims against general aviation aircraft makers if the part that allegedly failed was more than 18 years old. A state appeals court reversed that ruling, finding that the law did not apply to Bell because the company withheld information from the FAA about previous yoke failures. The California Supreme Court denied Bell’s request to review the case at press time. The lawsuit will probably go to trial early next year, said Robert Guilford of the Los Angeles firm of Baum, Hedlund, Aristei, Guilford & Schiavo, which is representing the widows.