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Families Settle Medical Helicopter Crash Suits

LINCOLN, Neb. -- Three families have agreed to settle their lawsuits over a 2002 medical helicopter crash in Norfolk that killed three people.

"I can now confirm that the parties have reached a settlement in principal in all three cases," Gary C. Robb, the families' attorney, said Tuesday.

Robb said the details of the settlement are being negotiated, and he could not discuss them until they were finalized.

Three LifeNet employees had taken off from a Norfolk hospital on a mission to pick up an injured child in O'Neill.

Two minutes into the June 21, 2002, flight, the pilot reported a mechanical problem and the helicopter crash landed at Karl Stefan Norfolk Memorial Airport seven minutes after taking off.

Killed in the crash were Lori Schrempp, 41, an emergency room nurse from Yankton, S.D.; pilot Phil Herring, 43, of Lincoln; and paramedic Patrick Scollard, 40, of Sioux City, Iowa.

The National Transportation Safety Board ruled in 2004 that a faulty tail rotor and an inexperienced pilot were the likely causes of the crash.

Other factors included the binding of a mechanism controlling the tail rotor, gusty winds and the pilot's lack of experience with that type of helicopter, the agency said.

The settlement means no trials likely will be held. The first trial was scheduled to begin Tuesday, about five years and five months since the initial lawsuit was filed.

Rocky Mountain Holdings, LifeNet's parent company, and its insurer were listed as plaintiffs in the lawsuit along with the families.

The lawsuit in Lancaster County District Court originally named more than a dozen defendants who played some role in the design, manufacture, sale or operation of the helicopter.

The judge has dismissed several defendants from the case including Duncan Aviation of Lincoln, CIT Leasing Corp. and Societe D' Applications Des Machines Motrices.

The remaining defendants include American Eurocopter, Eurocopter S.A., Turbomeca Engine Corp., Turbomeca, S.A., and Dunlop Limited.

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