Beasley Firm Wins $5.4M Award Against U.S. for Fatal Plane Crash

A deadly 2012 plane crash was found to have resulted from negligence on the part of an air traffic controller by a federal judge in Virginia.

A $5.4 million judgement was awarded to widow Joyce Gardella, whose husband Paul Gardella was an experienced FAA certified flight instructor. On the day of the accident, he was conducting a pilot flight review of an NTSB official from the passenger seat of a Beechcraft Bonanza. Radar records showed that a Piper PA-28 Cherokee flew within 500 ft of the Bonanza, registering a blinking red conflict alert with the local air traffic controller, who then failed to deliver a warning before their midair collision.

Beasley Firm aviation attorneys and pilots Jim Beasley and Lane Jubb, successfully took on the U.S. government and harsh contributory negligence laws. In Virginia, if an injured person is found to have contributed to the cause of the accident in even the slightest way, they are barred from recovering monetary damages. Mr. Beasley and Mr. Jubb were able to conclusively show through expert testimony, accident reconstructions, and fact witnesses that Paul Gardella was acting prudently on the day of the accident. The court agreed by stating in its decision:

“The record is absent of any evidence demonstrating that Mr. Gardella was acting negligently in the minutes leading up to the collision.”

Joyce Gardella was awarded over $1.5M for lost future income and household services, and over $2.3M for sorrow, mental anguish, and solace. Paul and Joyce’s three children received $500k each for their suffering. To see more of our accomplishments in the courtroom, read our settlements and verdicts page.