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Mark Bello
Mark Bello
Attorney • (877) 377-7848

Vicarious Liability: 15,000,000 Reasons To Keep Employees From Flying Clients in Private Airplanes

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An Chicago, Illinois judge has approved a $15,000,000 wrongful death settlement for the survivors of Michael Waugh, who was killed, along with three others, in a plane crash in January 2006.

Waugh, who owned several popular restaurants in the Chicago area, was a prominent client of financial giant, Morgan Stanley. The pilot, Mark Turek, was a Morgan Stanley employee; Waugh’s family brought suit against Turek; the National Transportation Safety Board found that Turek’s plane had been cleared to land, but Turek approached too slowly; this caused the plane to stall, nose dive to the ground, and explode upon impact. The pilot and three passengers (including Waugh) were killed.

The unique feature of this lawsuit and recovery, though, is not that Turek was negligent or that a wrongful death lawsuit was filed by surviving family members. In this case, the family also sued Morgan Stanley, attacking its internal policies that permitted its employee (Turek-a senior financial advisor for Morgan Stanley), a non-professional pilot, to use a private airplane on company business. The complaint indicated that the investment firm failed to have a written policy prohibiting the transportation of firm clients, by firm employees, in private airplanes.

Kansas City attorney, Gary Robb, who, obviously, did a fabulous job for his clients, indicated that he conducted a thorough investigation; it revealed that no other comparable financial institution permits amateur pilots to fly firm clients around on firm business. To its credit, Morgan Stanley changed its policy after the tragic accident. Under terms of the settlement, Waugh’s widow will receive $6 million from both defendants and his three children will receive $3 million each, also split equally between the two defendants. Thus, significant key to the large recovery here was the attorneys’ novel use of agency theories against Morgan Stanley to advance his clients’ pursuit of justice

The flight at the center of this litigation originated in Kansas, where Turek and a co-employee had arranged a business meeting with Waugh’s father; the airplane crashed on the return flight to Chicago. The case was litigated over a period of three and one-half years. 50 depositions were taken; 1300 pleadings and thousands of documents were filed. The litigation, obviously, was highly contentious. Lawsuit Financial congratulates the attorneys on both sides for acting reasonably and responsibly under difficult circumstances. We offer both our condolences to the Waugh family for the loss of their husband and father and our congratulations on the success of their hard-fought quest for justice. No amount of money will bring back a loved one, but at least there will be some measure of financial security for the surviving family members in this case.

Lawsuit Financial provides lawsuit funding in airplane crash cases. These cases often result in the ultimate tragedy; they often result from pilot error and are, almost always result in highly contested, lengthy, and expensive litigation. This case, after all, took three and one-half years to resolve; similar cases will often take even longer to resolve, especially if trials and appeals are conducted. Legal finance services can assist a grieving family through the lengthy litigation process, with strategically timed legal funding; the loss of the principal family breadwinner is devastating, emotionally and financially. Neither our company nor its pre-settlement funding service can prevent a family’s grief; we can help victims migrate through a difficult and lengthy legal process and pay ordinary and necessary expenses like house payments, car payments, groceries, utilities, etc. until the lawsuit is resolved or the family, otherwise, gets back on their feet. Our lawsuit funding is completely contingent on the outcome of the case; if the case is successful we are repaid our principal and profit. If the case fails, however, we excuse the non-recourse lawsuit advance and the money is the client’s to keep, free of charge. In essence, we do what an attorney cannot; we guarantee a recovery in the case, equal to the amount of litigation funding we provide.

Litigation finance services are also available to the attorney for litigation costs or advanced attorney fees. We provide this valuable lawsuit finance service to further the pursuit of justice and invite all qualifying candidates to take advantage of our service, but only when the need arises and the situation is appropriate. A financially desperate plaintiff is not a positive influence on settlement negotiations. Strategically placed lawsuit financing can, and often does, prevent settlement, too early, for too little. That is what we call the win-win-win scenario: The client receives a larger settlement; the attorney receives an increased attorney fee; Lawsuit Financial receives a nice profit. The only loser? The defendant and the insurance company. What could be better than that?