Airplane & Ship Related Accidents

Two new Ducks victims file lawsuits today

The deadly Ride The Ducks crash that claimed six lives on Sept. 24th on the Aurora Bridge. Today the Ducks attempts to turn the corner. It is is the first day since that crash that some of the Ducks amphibious vehicles will be out back on the roads in limited numbers in Seattle.

Frustration and surprise were among some of the reactions from SKW clients Yuta Masumoto and Mazda Hutapea, international students at North Seattle Community College, who were on the bus and who sustained serious injuries as a result of the crash. These two young students, excited to study abroad, are now faced with long recovery times to deal with broken bones, torn ligaments, and bodies that resemble those who have lived four times longer than each of them.

Their lawsuits were filed today and to hold the Ducks company accountable for vehicles that were apparently fraught with mechanical issues.

*Doug Phillips is co-counsel.

Ride the Ducks victim hopes to get needed health care


SKW client, Phuong Dinh, continues to recover from the Ride the Ducks crash. (Ellen M. Banner/The Seattle Times)

SKW client, Phuong Dinh, continues to recover from the Ride the Ducks crash. (Ellen M. Banner/The Seattle Times)

A few days ago, news reported the plight of SKW client, Phuong Dinh, 18 year old international student, who was seriously injured in the Oct. 2015 Ride the Ducks crash. With a long way to go in her recovery, she also had to worry about losing her health coverage. Please read about the wonderful turn of events in today’s Seattle Times article,”Ride the Ducks crush victim to get help from state, college.

Wrongful Death Lawsuit against Boeing Over Faulty Airbags

KING5 News reported on SKW’s lawsuit just filed against Boeing for the wrongful death of Ken Otto and for a flawed airbag system. The story provided high level details about how father, wife, and brother, Ken Otto, was robbed of his life when he chose to work on the seat belt airbag systems on a set of Boeing plans.

Ken Otto

While working with an assistant in tight quarters on a plane, the airbag deployed without warning and tore off half of Ken Otto’s face. Within several weeks, he died, leaving behind a tortured and grief stricken family.

The family will have to deal with this enormous void in their lives as well as the knowledge that Ken suffered excruciating pain and suffering after a preventable incident inside a Boeing 777.

Crash course in surviving a plane accident

Despite the tragic Virgin Galactic space plane crash that claimed a test pilot’s life last week, Richard Branson, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos among other high tech executives still believe in the future of commercial space tourism. In his first press conference after the crash of SpaceShipTwo in the Mojave Desert, Branson likened this new frontier (i.e., commercial space) to commercial flights, which experienced many fatal setbacks in its earliest days.

True, flying on commercial planes is one of the safest means of transportation. Over 8 million people fly each day. But in the past decade there has been no more than 138 crashes with fatalities. SKW has had the privilege of representing plaintiffs on some of those plane crashes.

!Plane Crash stats

In the last decade, there have been less than 140 plane crashes with fatalities.

Despite the statistics that should calm frequent fliers, I admit that I’ve wondered about my fate whenever my plane takes off or when we hit turbulence in the air. When I first started to fly with my husband, I used to secretly chuckle at him for his diligence in following along with the flight attendant’s review of the safety instructions. I hid my chuckling because another part of me knew that Eric was wiser for paying attention. He would know exactly what to do, if our plane was one of those several dozen flights that suddenly crashed into some body of water. At that point, his chances of surviving would greatly increase compared to the rest of the passengers, who had opted to ignore the instructions just to focus on their magazine or Kindle.

As the years go by, ever since I’ve started to fly with my little girl, I too will follow along with Eric and my daughter to review the flight safety instructions. In fact, I have more than once embarrassed my daughter by dancing (while buckled in my seat) and singing along to the new Virgin America flight safety video… hey, I’m not the only one (check out this entertaining video!).

Well, British Airways now offers airplane crash safety courses for the general public.  Those who take this course even get a chance to go down the inflatable slide and learn the proper brace position.


Aviation crash victims must sort through more than just wreckage

The recent tragedies in aviation serve as harsh reminders that air travel may result in unforeseen and even deadly complications. Teams of investigators continue to sort through the scant clues to figure out what happened with the Malaysian Flight 370 (MH370). As the days have turned into weeks, theories range from routine radio malfunction to complex terrorist schemes. Meanwhile, the families of those on MH370, have suffered a roller coaster of emotions as possible evidence of the plane’s demise turns up. Amidst the experts who have flown into Beijing, where the families of MH370 are triaging, a minimum of two legal teams have arrived seeing this as a major opportunity.!KOMO Helicopter Crash

Flouting U.S. law about providing unsolicited communications to families of passengers within 45 days of an airplane accident, representatives from law firms claiming expertise in aviation litigation have come out of the woodwork. Their advice to the families include 1) do not sign any agreements with the airline or its insurance company (Allianz), 2) find any legal connection with the US and file suit there.

As for the KOMO helicopter crash, the NTSB will continue its investigation for several months before disclosing all of the details of the crash. Hours after the crash, Mayor Murray held a press conference, recommending a review of the city’s laws governing helicopter use. Under city law, stops for helicopters are allowed only when they “serve a public safety, news gathering or emergency medical care function,” and only under conditional use permits granted by the Seattle City Council.

Indeed, aviation injury lawyers must navigate a maze of local, national, and international laws. SKW’s airplane accident lawyers Keith Kessler and Brad J. Moore have represented those including international airplane crash victim, Mike Hemmer, along with others who have asked for anonymity.


An SKW Plane Crash Case Shown on Discovery’s “Curiosity” Show

The Discovery Channel, on the next episode of Curiosity will take a look at one of Stritmatter Kessler’s!HemmerPlane2.jpg recent plane crash cases.

The case of Mike Hemmer’s survival of a major plane crash is sure to fascinate viewers: Mr. Hemmer was on board an international flight out of Amsterdam. Minutes after takeoff, the plane crashed.

Suffering major injuries, Mike was whisked to a nearby hospital. Days later, he learned that none of his three Boeing colleagues had survived the crash.

Learn more details about Mike’s amazing survival of the plane accident and SKW’s Keith Kessler and Brad Moore’s fight for justice, by checking out SKW’s website, and don’t forget to check out Discovery’s latest episode of Curiosity.

U.S. Chamber’s Hypocrisy Exposed: Do As I Say, Not As I Sue

New report shows hypocrisy of Institute for Legal Reform’s corporate board members that aggressively litigate while blocking justice for everyday Americans

Washington, D.C. –As the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) holds its annual summit – a strategy session on eliminating Americans’ access to the civil justice system – a new report exposes ILR’s corporate board members that hypocritically use the courts for their own gain against competitors, customers and even each othersay_sue_coverFIN.jpg_sized.jpg.

In its newest report, Do As I Say, Not As I Sue, the American Association for Justice (AAJ) exposes the hypocrisy of 10 ILR board members that regularly use the legal system to advance their own agendas, while at the same time advocating legislation that would close the courthouse doors to anyone who would hold them accountable for their own wrongdoing.

“These corporations, like all Americans, have a right to seek justice through the legal system,” said AAJ President Gary M. Paul. “What makes their actions shameful and hypocritical is that these companies are members of ILR’s board for the sole purpose of denying American workers and consumers this same right.”

One ILR board member highlighted in the report is Honeywell International, which has regularly taken competitors to court, but would prefer not to be held accountable for distributing defective body armor to law enforcement personnel across the country, or downplaying the dangers of asbestos exposure.

In return for its financial contributions to ILR, Honeywell has received policy and public relations help when its negligence has been uncovered. Four days after an Illinois jury delivered a multi-million dollar verdict against Honeywell for conspiring to hide the dangers of asbestos, ILR issued a press release stating that the decision “confirms a troubling trend in the State of Illinois where there is a hostile ligation environment.” Additionally, the Madison County Record, an Illinois-based propaganda-as-news outlet fully owned by ILR, featured an article headlined, “McLean County Continues Inching Closer to Becoming a ‘Judicial Hellhole.'”

The irony does not stop with Honeywell – AAJ’s report also highlights the litigation hypocrisy of ILR board members FedEx, Dow Chemical Company, General Motors Corporation, Caterpillar, State Farm, Koch Industries, Abbott Laboratories, Prudential and Johnson & Johnson.

Online ads will run this week on major news sites and blogs to promote the report, Do As I Say, Not As I Sue: Exposing the Lawsuit-Happy Hypocrites of U.S. Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform, which can be found at

BUI Injuries Can Rival or Surpass DUI Injuries

Yesterday’s Seattle Times article indicated that over 70 boaters in Lake Washington were arrested this Sunday for boating under the influence (BUI).!LakeWashington.jpg This story is a sad reminder of the many clients that we see come through our doors at SKW, whose injuries or loved one’s death resulted from a senseless boating incident. We have handled a number of cases involving drivers of boats, who have been drunk or on drugs and killed/injured passengers or others in the waterway.

When on the waters, boaters may forget how lethal their boats can be when their judgment is compromised due to alcohol or some other substance.

To anyone who ever navigates the waters, remember that it’s extremely dangerous to drive a boat while drunk. In fact, it’s as bad if not worse than driving on a roadway, which is a solid surface with lanes of travel, signage and lights.


Don’t miss “Hot Coffee!”

This weekend I got to see my last movie at the Seattle International Film Festival. It was “Hot Coffee,” a documentary by Susan Saladoff. It made me incredibly proud to be in this profession and to work with some of the best trial lawyers in the country.cropped-hotcoffee.jpg

The movie is an absolute must-see. Period. Full stop. When the DVD comes out (later this summer), run, don’t walk to buy it. Better yet, you can see it if you have HBO later this month. It is not a dry, boring documentary: Al Franken and Paul Grisham keep things lively.

Although I work for a plaintiffs law firm, even I had misconceptions about the infamous “hot coffee” lawsuit against McDonalds. This documentary, however, is not just about opening everyone’s eyes to the jaw dropping injuries that Stella Liebeck, the then 79-year old woman sustained from spilling some scalding hot coffee on herself. It reveals how McDonalds had previously received 700 complaints about the ridiculously hot coffee.

Moreover, the film shows how some  corporations have spent many hundreds of million dollars on distorting the truth about tort claims — from “tort reform” to caps on damages. Trial lawyers are conveniently pegged as the villains, while insurance companies are portrayed as the victims: a comedy and utter tragedy at the same time.

A doctor specializing in burn injuries explains in “Hot Coffee,” that the holding temperature for coffee was so hot that at best, if the coffee touched one’s skin for a few seconds, one would suffer 3rd degree burns. Regardless, McDonalds chose to ignore the obvious threat to its customers’ safety until brave Ms. Liebeck attempted to hold them accountable.

The film also features a couple of other poignant stories: One, about an ex-Halliburton worker who was brutally raped by her coworkers in Iraq; but denied the ability to sue her employer/employees thanks to a mandatory arbitration clause. The other story is a needlessly tragic situation, where one twin boy was brain damaged in utero, because of a negligent doctor. That family was essentially robbed of the jury verdict due to the state’s cap on damages.

Buy this DVD for all of your friends, family, neighbors, etc., so that they learn how many corporations are attempting to dismantle the civil justice system.

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This blog is maintained by attorneys at Stritmatter Kessler Whelan (SKW), focused on important legal issues, news, and developments... MORE
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