ValuJet Settlements Revealed

ByCatherine Wilson

M I A M I, July 20, 2000 -- The families of 110 people killed in the 1996ValuJet crash in the Everglades have received at least $262 millionin insurance settlements, court records show.

The settlement amounts — normally shielded by confidentialityagreements — became public when prosecutors sought repayment from SabreTech, the jet repair company convicted of mishandlinghazardous cargo it delivered to the plane.

The illegal shipment of explosive-tipped oxygen generatorscaused the cargo fire that brought down the Atlanta-bound DC-9shortly after takeoff from Miami International Airport on May 11,1996.

The National Transportation Safety Board split the blame amongSabreTech, ValuJet and the Federal Aviation Administration for laxoversight of the fast-growing discount carrier now operating asAmerican Trans Air Inc.

Million Dollar PaymentsSabreTech, the first aviation company criminally convicted in acommercial crash, is to be sentenced Aug. 13. Along withrestitution, prosecutors are seeking a $4.5 million fine and fiveyears probation. The company is no longer in business.

The documents, filed earlier this month, show that Lloyd’s ofLondon, which insured SabreTech, has paid $151 million and UnitedStates Aviation Underwriters of New York, ValuJet’s insurer, haspaid $111 million to settle all but two of the claims fromrelatives of people killed in the DC-9 crash. Payments averaged$2.4 million.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephen Brown recommended that the trialjudge discard insurance reimbursement and winnow other restitutionto $9.1 million, primarily to cover lost income for three families.

“We’re pleased that the magistrate adhered closely to the lawin ruling out the bulk of all of these claims,” Ken Quinn,corporate counsel for SabreTech, said Wednesday.

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