Lawsuit over fatal helicopter crash ends
Posted February 4, 2010
Louisburg, N.C. — The widow of a Franklin County deputy killed in a helicopter crash almost six years ago has dropped her lawsuit against the aircraft's pilot, her attorney said Thursday.
Ann Greene, the widow of Deputy Ted Horton, decided to stop pursuing claims in the case because pilot Ben Barrick has no assets to pay any judgment, said Greene's attorney, Hill Allen.
"We felt the suit would result in a substantial verdict, but trying to satisfy that verdict would be like chasing the wind," Allen said.
Court rulings had previously dropped Franklin County and the sheriff's office from the suit because they were protected by governmental immunity.
An investigation revealed that metal fatigue caused the tail boom to fail, resulting in the fatal May 2004 crash during an aerial search for drugs. A National Transportation Safety Board investigator also concluded Barrick's inexperience as a pilot led to the crash.
Barrick was initially charged with involuntary manslaughter in the crash, but prosecutors dismissed the charges in July 2008 because of lack of evidence. Federal law barred the NTSB investigator from testifying.
Officials previously alleged that Barrick deceived Franklin County, signing a secret deal with the former sheriff to put a faulty helicopter in service and burden the county with the liability.
The lease agreement called for a helicopter in excellent condition, and authorities said Barrick chose to fly it despite warnings that it hadn't been properly maintained.
Allen said Greene reached a "modest settlement" with some other defendants in the civil suit.