$5 Million Awarded For 1992 Helicopter Crash

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The Hartford Courant

November 19, 1997

Five years after a tragic helicopter accident in Middletown, three local institutions were ordered to pay millions in damages to the victims and their families.

Rocky Mountain Helicopters, Connecticut Light and Power Co. and Hartford Hospital were ordered to pay a total of $5.5 million to four victims of the June 1992 accident in which a Life Star Helicopter struck a power line and crashed. A flight nurse, Jennifer Hodges of West Hartford, was killed and respiratory therapist Joy Minichello was seriously injured.

Making the biggest payout - $5.2 million - in the settlement was Rocky Mountain Helicopters, the company that operates the aircraft for Hartford Hospital. Connecticut Light and Power contributed $250,000 and Hartford Hospital $25,000.

$4.2 million was awarded to Joy Minichello, who sustained a spinal cord injury that subsequently made walking difficult. $1 million was awarded to the administrators of the estate of the late Jennifer Hodges. The helicopter's pilot, Joseph Bremseth, who suffered a traumatic brain injury, received $180,000, and passing motorist Rodney Barry, who was hit by flying debris, received $138,000.

Atty. Michael Koskoff tried the complicated case in which there were eight different legal actions, nineteen plaintiffs and defendants (some plaintiffs were also defendants), and fourteen lawyers.

Koskoff further argued that Hartford Hospital had contributed to the accident by failing to request all available information about the landing area.