Families in Wellstone Plane Crash Reach $25 Million Settlement

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Family members of the late Sen. Paul Wellstone and five other passengers killed in an October plane crash have reached a $25 million insurance settlement with the air charter company that operated the flight, an attorney for the families confirmed Thursday.

Roberta Walburn, who along with Mike Ciresi represented the families of all six passengers who died in the Oct. 25 crash, said the settlement would avert a lawsuit by their clients against Aviation Charter Inc. of Eden Prairie and its affiliated companies, according to an Associated Press account.

Walburn confirmed a Minneapolis Star Tribune story that their investigation determined that pilot error brought down the twin-engine Beechcraft King Air A100 as it approached Eveleth-Virginia Municipal Airport en route to a funeral that Wellstone and his group were to attend.

The National Transportation Safety Board has not formally determined the cause of the crash, although preliminary reports released by the safety board this spring strongly suggest pilot error contributed to the crash.

In particular, the lawyers said flight captain Richard Conry, 55, and co-pilot Michael Guess, 30, “failed to maintain appropriate power and airspeed.”

They also said the “lack of competence” of the crew was the result of “among other things the negligent hiring, supervision, training and retention of the crew by the settling companies.”

Link: http://news.mpr.org/features/2003/08/28_zdechlikm_wellstonesettle/

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