High Profile Wrongful Death Defense

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Country Music Tragedy

CAPPELLO, et al. v. Duncan Aircraft Sales of Florida Inc., Nashville, Tenn.

Rose Walker represented defendant Duncan Aircraft Sales in a high-profile wrongful death suit involving country music star Reba McEntire’s band leader, who perished on a flight during a concert tour. Claiming that the band leader would have become a top-flight record producer, the plaintiffs sought damages of $10 million against Duncan, which it alleged was the sole cause of the accident. Attorney Martin Rose took the reasonable position that damages to the surviving parents of this young man should be no more than $750,000, and that federal government was at least partially responsible for the accident.

The defendant offer to settle for $850,000 before trial, but the case was tried to verdict. The federal court jury found the government 55 percent at fault and Duncan 45 percent at fault, and awarded damages of $750,000. Because Tennessee has no joint and several liability, the net verdict against our client was $329,000. The case, appealed by the plaintiffs because of the low damages award, was reversed and subsequently settled.