Jury awards $16 million in Cirrus plane crashA jury in northern Minnesota has awarded more than $16 million to the families of two men who died in a plane crash near in 2003.
GRAND RAPIDS, Minn. (AP) — A jury in northern Minnesota has awarded more than $16 million to the families of two men who died in a plane crash near in 2003.
The jurors decided that Duluth-based airplane maker Cirrus Design Corp., the University of North Dakota Aerospace Foundation and pilot Gary Prokop were all negligent in the crash.
Cirrus made the plane that crashed on Jan. 18, 2003, killing Prokop, 47, and James Kosak, 51, his friend and passenger. Both men were from Grand Rapids. Their families alleged that the pilot was negligent and that Cirrus was negligent for not adequately training him.
The Itasca County jury agreed, and ruled Thursday night.
Jurors awarded Kosak’s family $7.4 million and Prokop’s family $9 million — it would have been $12 million had he not been found to be 25 percent negligent for the crash.
Bill King, vice president of operations for Cirrus, said the company was surprised and was investigating its options.
“It’s certainly disappointing to us but we continue to operate as we had planned,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do. This is just one circumstance we have to face in the process of operating and we will continue on.”
Officials of the UND Aerospace Foundation could not be reached for comment Friday.
Prokop and Kosak were flying in a Cirrus SR22 on their way to St. Cloud to watch their sons play in a hockey tournament when the plane crashed near Hills City. Prokop was active in economic development in Grand Rapids; Kosak had served on the United Way and YMCA boards.
“I’m happy and relieved that it is all over,” said Mary Kosak, wife of James Kosak. “Our family is very, very thankful to the jury and to the judge for all of their time and effort. It was an unbelievably complicated case, and they just gave it their 100 percent attention, and we’re just very thankful to them.”
Blair Prokop, Gary’s daughter, said the family’s attorney summed the situation up well in closing arguments. “We didn’t want sympathy. We wanted justice,” she said. “We’re happy to receive that justice, but it doesn’t replace our loss.”