A Philadelphia jury awarded a doctor and his fiancé $11.35 million last month for injuries suffered in a 2007 plane crash outside Atlanta. Dr. Robert Marsico Jr., 47, a dermatological surgeon from Akron, and Heather Moran, a 39-year-old professional pilot, were fortunate to survive the crash. The verdict was against Winner Aviation, a Pennsylvania-based company that maintained the plane. The jury found that the plane had not been properly maintained prior to the crash.
Ms. Moran flew the twin-engine Cessna Skymaster airplane, which was owned by Dr. Marsico. Shortly after taking off from DeKalb-Peachtree Airport in Atlanta, the aircraft developed engine problems and crashed in a non-populated area near a water treatment facility. The crash knocked Ms. Moran unconscious, but she was revived by Dr. Marsico, whose legs were crushed. As Ms. Moran was helping Dr. Marsico get out of the plane, a wing exploded – engulfing both of them in fire. Dr. Marsico suffered lung and respiratory system injuries from breathing in flames and fuel and third-degree burns. Ms. Moran suffered third-degree burns to 40 percent of her body. As a result, she can no longer fly because she has been unable to pass the FAA’s medical examination.
Dr. Marsico’s plane was maintained for several years by Winner Aviation, which serviced it at the Youngstown-Warren Airport. The Skymaster was plagued with recurrent problems with its rear engine, which doesn’t get cooled because very little air blows over it. Maintenance of that engine requires vigilance and regular repairs. On the day of the takeoff, the rear engine lost power. While the plane is designed to run on one engine, the front engine failed to deliver the power for Ms. Moran to keep it airborne, making an emergency landing necessary. Further inspections of the engines – which survived the crash – showed that Winner Aviation did not repair the rear engine and that the front engine was due for an overhaul that was not performed.
Following the crash, Dr. Marsico was in an induced coma in an Atlanta hospital. It took many months and surgeries before he was able to return home. Fortunately, Dr. Marsico’s hands were not severely burned. He can’t walk normally, but he has been able since 2009 to provide medical care to his patients. Jamie R. Lebovitz, a Chicago lawyer, along with Arthur Allen Wolk from Philadelphia, handled this case and they did a very good job for their clients.