Father of Carnahan aide settles lawsuit

Friday, May 28, 2004

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- An aircraft parts manufacturer has settled a wrongful death lawsuit filed by a man whose son died in a plane crash that also killed then-Gov. Mel Carnahan. Dale Sifford will get $905,000 in a settlement reached May 12 with Parker Hannifin Corp. of Cleveland. Sifford's son, Chris Sifford, was Carnahan's aide.

Sifford's Jackson County lawsuit alleged that two vacuum pumps made by Parker Hannifin failed during the flight, cutting power to instruments critical to flying through the rainy, windy weather that night, and causing the crash.

Carnahan's son, Randy Carnahan, was piloting the plane, and became disoriented in the storm. The plane crashed Oct. 16, 2000 in eastern Missouri, as Mel Carnahan was campaigning for the U.S. Senate seat then held by John Ashcroft.

Combined with settlements from other companies, Sifford will receive about $1.6 million in damages.

Sifford's attorney, Kirk R. Presley, said a Jackson County jury's decision to award the Carnahan family $4 million in actual damages from Parker-Hannifin helped prompt the settlement in this case.

Circuit Judge Charles Atwell reduced the Carnahans' damage award to approximately $2.4 million after deducting settlements the family reached with other companies. Atwell has denied Parker-Hannifin's request that the verdict in the Carnahan case be set aside.

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