Celebrity Cases

Stevie Ray Vaughan

Slack & Davis’s aviation team represented the brother and mother of blues guitarist and musician Stevie Ray Vaughan after he was killed in a post-concert helicopter crash near Elkhorn, Wisconsin, on August 27, 1990.

The Bell 206B helicopter was supposed to take him to Chicago Midway Airport, but instead it crashed into a hill shortly after take-off. All five people on board were killed. The lawsuit alleged that Omniflight Helicopters was negligent in using an unqualified pilot, and that the pilot was negligent for taking off in dense fog.

At the time of his death, Stevie Ray Vaughan was widely regarded as one of the most talented musicians of his generation. He received two Grammy nominations in 1984, shared a Grammy in 1985, and won a contemporary blues Grammy in 1990.

Recovery: Confidential, as required by the settlement agreement
Aviation Attorney Team:
Michael L. Slack, Mike Davis, Tom H. Davis

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Reba McEntire’s band

Members of Reba McEntire’s band were flying to their next engagement after a night concert in San Diego on March 16, 1991. Two minutes after take-off, their chartered plane, a Hawker Siddeley, crashed into a mountain, killing all seven persons on board.

The parents of three musicians sued the charter plane’s owner, Duncan Aircraft, for wrongful death, alleging that the pilot, a Duncan employee, caused the crash by failing to clear the mountain. Plaintiffs also alleged that Duncan contributed to the crash by failing to provide its pilots with aeronautical charts showing the location and height of the mountains in the area.

Recovery: $2,850,000 ($950,000 to each of the three decedents’ parents)
Aviation Attorney Team:
Mike Davis, Tom H. Davis

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Walter Hyatt

Slack & Davis represented the wife and two children of Walter Hyatt, a Texas recording artist and musician who was traveling to attend his daughter’s college graduation. On May 11, 1996, Valujet Flight 592 was bound for Atlanta when a fire on board contributed to the plane’s crash into the Florida Everglades 11 minutes after takeoff. All 110 passengers and crew aboard were killed. The investigation revealed that oxygen canisters stored in the cargo bay were mistakenly labeled as “empty” and improperly packed; many of them were missing safety caps.

Recovery: Confidential, as required by the settlement agreement
Aviation Attorney Team: Michael L. Slack, Mike Davis

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Jim Croce

The career of folk rock musician Jim Croce was just beginning to soar when a plane he had chartered crashed at the end of a runway in Natchitoches, Louisiana, on September 20, 1973. His song “Time in a Bottle” became a posthumous hit as a nation of music lovers was moved by its refrain: “There never seems to be enough time to do the things you want to do, once you find them.”

Recovery: $675,000 (all available insurance coverage)
Aviation Attorney: Tom Davis

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