SOURCE: Zisser, Robison, Brown, Nowlis & Maciejewski, P.A.

October 13, 2006 15:14 ET

Family of Pilot Who Crashed on Thanksgiving Day 2003 Reaches $2.5 Million Settlement With FAA and Robinson Aviation

Investigation Leads to Safer Landing System at Craig Municipal Airport

JACKSONVILLE, FL -- (MARKET WIRE) -- October 13, 2006 -- Trial attorneys Donald M. Maciejewski, of Zisser, Robison, Brown, Nowlis & Maciejewski, P.A., and Jack W. London, of Jack W. London & Associates, P.C., announced today that the Swanson family's lawsuit against the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Robinson Aviation, Inc. (RVA) has been settled for $2.5 million.

The Swanson family contended in the suit that Craig Municipal Airport in Jacksonville had faulty equipment and air traffic controllers failed to warn pilot George C. Swanson of his position before he crashed near the airport on Thanksgiving 2003.

"Since we began this case, the government changed the antennae to a modern system that prevents the fault, and the air traffic controllers who were handling the airplane at the time of the crash have been reassigned," Maciejewski said. "It is heartbreaking to lose a parent and a friend this way, but the Swanson family has given itself to public service ever since their great-grandfather was the personal physician to two U.S. presidents. It is only fitting that their father's last act was also a public service -- to make flying safer for pilots in Jacksonville and North Florida."

Swanson, a physician, and his children were flying from Port Arthur, Texas, to Jacksonville on Thanksgiving to meet with his mother and brother, a Jacksonville police officer, before flying to the Keys. He died when his Swearingen Merlin II airplane crashed into woods in thick fog near Atlantic and Kernan boulevards, 1.8 miles from the airport. He was 56.

All four children aboard the plane were injured but survived.

"When the Swanson family asked us to find out why their father's airplane crashed, we knew it would require an investigation into why the air traffic controllers at Craig Field did not advise the pilot of his position, but we didn't think that was enough," London said. "After thousands of pages of government records, many thousands of questions put to many witnesses, and after research into little-known details about instrument landing failures, we were able to tell the Swanson children what we learned -- something that very few people knew, and those people weren't talking."

"Craig Field had a radio landing system for almost a decade that the government knew was out of specification but left unchanged," Maciejewski said. "Moreover, pilots were never told that a government inspection had revealed that the glideslope at Craig was subject to course reversal that affected the airplane landing instruments, particularly in bad weather."

Maciejewski is a Florida board-certified aviation law attorney. His plaintiffs practice focuses primarily on aviation law, airplane and helicopter crash litigation, personal injury and complex product liability suits. He was a commissioned officer and helicopter pilot in the U.S. Army, and is a certified aircraft accident investigator. He also teaches courses in aviation law and products liability at the Florida Coastal School of Law.

London is a Texas board-certified personal injury trial law attorney, specializing in aviation crash litigation. He is an air safety investigator as well as a pilot. He is a member of the Lawyer-Pilot Bar Association, the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, and the American Board of Trial Advocates.

About Zisser, Robison, Brown, Nowlis & Maciejewski, P.A.:

With more than 100 years of collective legal experience, the Jacksonville, Florida-based law firm of Zisser, Robison, Brown, Nowlis & Maciejewski, P.A. specializes in the areas of aviation law, divorce and matrimonial law, custody and dependency matters, child advocacy, civil rights, personal injury, wrongful death, products liability law, medical malpractice law and criminal law. For more information, visit www.zisser.net.

About Jack W. London & Associates, P.C.:

The Austin, Texas-based law of firm Jack W. London & Associates, P.C has been involved in more than one hundred aviation accident cases involving general aviation aircraft, civilian and military helicopters, and passenger aircraft, including accidents in the United States, Mexico, South America, and China. For more information, visit www.jackwlondon.com.

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