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Most legal cases around 427 have been settled

Sunday, March 21, 1999

By Lawrence Walsh, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Most of the lawsuits filed in connection with the crash of USAir Flight 427 have been settled for amounts ranging from almost $1 million to just under $8 million.

Of the 63 suits filed in federal court in Pittsburgh or sent here from other jurisdictions, 49 have been settled and three are in the final stages of being settled. Sixteen of the 21 cases filed in Chicago have been settled.

Associated Aviation Underwriters of Short Hills, N.J., which insures Boeing and US Airways, settled its first case in January 1995 for an undisclosed amount.

Although AAU insists that family members and their lawyers sign confidentiality agreements as a part of each settlement in Pennsylvania, the amount of the settlements reached in Chicago are a matter of public record.

Court records in Chicago show that the relatives of the Weaver family of Upper St. Clair settled their lawsuit for just under $8 million. Earl and Kathleen Weaver and their children - Brian, 16, Lindsay, 11, and Scott, 7 - died in the Sept. 8, 1994 crash.

Earl, 50, was an area manager in international development at Harbison-Walker Refractories. His wife, Kathleen, 44, worked part-time for British Airways and volunteered as a Girl Scout leader and Sunday school teacher.

A quarrel among the defendants' insurance companies in 1998 about how much money each one should contribute to settlements caused an almost one-year delay in settlement negotiations.

At the request of the Plaintiffs Steering Committee, a group of 10 lawyers handling the liability phase of the litigation, U.S. District Judge William L. Standish last fall met privately several times with the defendants' attorneys and succeeded in convincing them to resume talking.

If the remaining cases in Chicago aren't settled by Nov. 3, they are scheduled to go to trial that day before Judge Judith Cohen. No trial date has been set for the Pittsburgh cases.

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