By Patsy R. Brumfield
TUPELO – A confidential settlement ended David Duncan’s daughters’ lawsuit over his fatal 2011 airplane crash.
John Booth Farese of Ashland, who represented the women, said he cannot disclose the settlement amount paid by Tupelo Airport Authority’s insurance carrier, but that Mississippi law caps damage awards at $500,000 against government entities.
The settlement was official Monday in Fulton.
Duncan, 69, died Aug. 17, 2011, virtually instantly when the Cessna twin-engine airplane he had just piloted from Tupelo Regional Airport suddenly banked to the left about 400 feet above the ground and crashed into a tree near a home off North Coley Road.
The plane had just been worked on by Tupelo Aviation Unlimited, the airport’s fixed base operator.
Reports to and by the National Transportation Safety Board, which investigated the incident, indicate that the crash’s probable cause came from the airport mechanic’s failure to follow normal procedures to install a fuel line to the plane’s engine, which caused the engine to quit and the plane to crash.
Specifically, the NTSB said the mechanic told investigators he failed to use anti-tamper putty around a nut on the fuel line. The probe showed broken putty, which meant it was loosened purposely or by causes like vibration.
Duncan’s daughters, Dana and Lisa Duncan of Shelby County, Tenn., who are in their late 30s, filed suit Jan. 25, 2013, in Lee County claiming negligence on behalf of the airport authority.
“The family is satisfied with this resolution,” Farese said. “Of course, his daughters were devastated by his death, but we realized that the cost of litigating the lawsuit was going to be very expensive.”
In talking about the litigation, he criticized Mississippi’s caps on these types of lawsuit awards, saying the law treats victims’ families “like second-class citizens” by putting an arbitrary value on their loved-ones’ lives.