The latest decision of the Court of Appeals in Illinois, US, confirms Cook County, Illinois’ reputation as a jurisdiction where the court will fairly consider claims against US defendants brought by foreign plaintiffs.

Stewarts’ aviation team of London, England together with Wisner Law of Illinois, US are instructed by the widow and children of Fabian Reichenbach. On 24 August 2012, Fabian Reichenbach was traveling as a passenger onboard a Pilatus PC12. News reports at the time revealed that the aircraft entered a storm cell while travelling over Solemont, France. Control of the aircraft was lost, it entered a dive, structural integrity failed and the right wing was torn from the fuselage. All occupants died.

Claims have been brought in Illinois against Ohmite, a resistor manufacturer. Peter Neenan, a partner at Stewarts in London explains the Ohmite claim:

“The official investigations into the cause of this accident by the Bureau d’Enquetes et d’Analyses and the Gendarmerie in France reveal that servos responsible for controlling the flight surfaces during autopilot engagement were disengaged. A transcript of the cockpit voice recorder meanwhile revealed that the pilot was unaware of the autopilot disengagement. There had been no warning sound of autopilot disengagement in the cockpit; it had just disengaged without notice. The official investigations did not seek to explain this silent autopilot disengagement.

“Five months after Fabian’s accident, another Pilatus PC12 crashed in the US in exactly the same circumstances; silent autopilot disengagement. The official investigation determined that the cause of the silent autopilot disengagement was a faulty resistor, manufactured by Ohmite. Ohmite’s resistors were installed on the aircraft Fabian was travelling in; we allege they also caused his accident.”

Following the commencement of claims against Ohmite in Illinois, the first instance court had denied Ohmite’s motion seeking that the court dismiss the case from the US and in the alternative transfer venue to Du Page county. Ohmite appealed the refusal to transfer venue. The court rejected their argument. Floyd Wisner of Wisner Law, Illinois, US, explains the importance of this decision:

“This claim was brought against Ohmite in their home state of Illinois, and in the specific county where they used to manufacture these resistors, and possibly even the one at issue, before they moved their manufacturing facilities to Mexico.

“The careful decision of the trial court and the appeal court confirms that the Cook County Courts of Illinois continue to fairly consider claims brought by foreign plaintiffs and that they will only dismiss claims when defendants have managed to meet the heavy burden that the application of a dismissal of a claim demands. Put another way, it serves the ends of justice to hear these cases in Illinois.”

Tracy Reichenbach, the widow of Fabian Reichenbach comments:

“Fabian was the love of my life and still is. We built a life together and in one day it was destroyed; it just disappeared. It has been a daily struggle for both me and our children. They love their father and we talk about him all the time to keep his memory alive.

“For my children’s sake and the memory of Fabian I am determined to fight to have the responsible companies held to account. They cannot just wash their hands of Fabian’s blood.”

The case continues.



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