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Air crash victim proceeds with suit

by Kurt Hildebrand

A lawsuit involving a Carson City man injured when a plane fell on him may be back on track.

Bob Griffin was in his back yard watering flowers on Sept. 1, 2001, when a small plane flown by Dr. Kevin Jensen lost power, crashed into a tree, and fell on Griffin, crushing both his legs.

More than two years later, the case itself stalled when the Griffins and their attorney parted ways, leaving them with a court date, but not money or representation.

Griffin’s wife, Pat, said Monday the couple now has two attorneys working on the case, Gerald Madison and Day Williams.

“There could be nothing in this for them,” she said. “But they jumped in with both feet, knowing it could be a futile situation.”

According to Pat Griffin, the attorneys’ strategy will be to go after the doctor’s insurance company, Old Republic.

“This is the only we’re told we can go,” Griffin said. “The only hope we have of recovering anything is from the insurance company.”

Jensen sued Old Republic after the accident when the company said it would not pay the claim because the airworthiness certificate for Jensen’s Piper aircraft was not up to date when the accident occurred.

Las Vegas federal Judge Larry Hicks threw out the case Aug. 5, 2003, saying the insurance company language was clear that the airworthiness certificate had to be in effect for the doctor to maintain his insurance.

Griffin said Madison and Williams plan to take the case to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn Hicks’ ruling.

“They both say there is a 20 percent chance that we will win,” she said.

The couple has accumulated $500,000 in medical and legal bills over the years. In the meantime, their retirement savings have gone to Bob’s recovery.

“We’re just letting people know that this can happen,” Griffin said. “People think we’re rich, which is amazing because we’re $500,000 in debt. But my husband is one of those positive thinking people.”

After a Jan. 4 story appeared in the Nevada Appeal, there was an outpouring of support.