On March 12, 2009, sixteen workers were being flown on a Sikorsky S-92 helicopter to oil platforms stationed off the coast of Newfoundland. A titanium bolt cracked, releasing all of the oil in the gear box, causing the transmission to seize, and the helicopter to plummet into the frigid north Atlantic.
Fifteen of the passengers perished as the helicopter sank; the lone survivor suffered lifetime injuries. Because Sikorsky had recently moved its headquarters for S-92 helicopters to the Delaware Valley, Canadian counsel asked Raynes Lawn Hehmeyer to represent the sole survivor and all of the families of the passengers killed. Investigation showed that Sikorsky knew long before the accident about the vulnerability of its titanium bolt and that its helicopter could not stay aloft for 30 minutes after complete oil loss, a safety feature standard in other copters. Raynes Lawn Hehmeyer filed suit in Philadelphia state court, and then Sikorsky asked to enter into mediation discussions. In order to document each family’s loss, Raynes attorneys, working with their Canadian co-counsel, videotaped hundreds of hours of interviews that were then edited into sixteen settlement presentations, one for each client. Through two weeks of mediation and in less than a year after the accident, every client’s case was resolved for amounts– made confidential to protect the clients–that ensured their financial security and honored those that they had lost.