The civil trial held in May and June of 1983 was against Boeing and TWA. They were the defendants in the case. The reality, however, was that the crew of TWA 841 was also on trial. If Boeing and the plaintiff’s attorney could show that the crew was responsible for the upset, as had already been determined by the NTSB’s finding of probable cause, then TWA would bare the full brunt of the damages.
So after having endured a two year flawed NTSB investigation the crew was facing the likelihood of being criticized once again by a whole new set of people. And that’s exactly what took place. TWA attorney Don Mark had an uphill battle. His job was to convince the six person jury that Boeing and the NTSB had gotten it wrong. The upset was caused by mechanical failure and not due to the wild and unsubstantiated claims of Boeing and the NTSB.
That is how the trial unfolded. The same people. The same evidence. Only this time the crew got a chance to speak. Don Mark provided his own set of experts to dispute many of the claims that had been made during the two year investigation. Would there be a different result?
Cameras weren’t allowed in the courtroom back in 1983. The image in this post is an actual artist rendition of Don Mark’s closing argument. The drawing hangs on the wall of his law office. In the video below, Don talks about how he had to defend the crew as well as TWA.