Stables v. Emery Worldwide Airlines Inc.

Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas

Palmer proves failure to put cotter pin in bolt holding flight control caused plane to crash on takeoff.

Captain Kevin Stables was an experienced pilot. He flew cargo planes for Emery Worldwide based in Dayton, Ohio. Emery outsourced its maintenance to Tennessee Technical Services in Nashville, Tennessee. Emery had experienced repeated problems with cargo misloading. On February 17, 2000, Captain Stables, his co-pilot and flight engineer took off from Mather Airport in Sacramento, California to return to Dayton. Within a few seconds of takeoff the plane began to porpoise as if the cargo had shifted. The plane became uncontrollable as it attempted to return to Mather. It crashed a mile short of the runway creating a huge conflagration. The entire crew was killed and burned up in the fire. A very lengthy investigation revealed that the probable cause of the crash was the improper use of a cotter pin which held a bolt that controlled the elevator system which was critical to the plane's safely taking off. Captain Stables was survived by his wife, his son, his parents, and his brother, all of whom were residents of upstate New York. The case was settled for a confidential amount after two private mediation shortly before trial.