Two years after the NTSB accused the crew of having caused the upset that nearly resulted in the deaths of 89 passengers and crew, the flight crew was given a second chance of sorts to clear their names. That opportunity came in the form of a civil trial. A number of TWA 841 passengers had filed suit against TWA and Boeing for damages they suffered as a result of being on the flight.
Rather than have a dozen or more separate trials to determine liability and damages, the attorneys agreed to have just one trial to establish liability. The six jurors were tasked with determining who was responsible for causing the damages claimed by the various plaintiffs. Was Boeing responsible? Was TWA responsible? Or were both responsible and, if so, to what degree? Once that very important question had been answered, all subsequent trials would then be focused on damages only.
So in many ways the civil trial of Holly and Tim Wicker against Boeing and TWA became a retrial of the investigation. Nearly all of the original Boeing and NTSB investigators were deposed for the trial. Many testified at trial. Hoot spent days in deposition and on the witness stand. Much of the evidence that was used to convince the NTSB board to vote on the probable cause was used again at trial.
What would a jury make of that evidence? Who would they believe? I won’t reveal the answer to those questions right now. What I will do, though, is let you hear from the attorney who represented TWA and, indirectly, the crew. His name is Donald Chance Mark. In the clip below Don talks about his initial impression of the case and his feelings about the crew’s involvement.