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Jurors Award $7.97 M In One Delta Crash Suit As $5 M Case Begins

March 22, 1988

Undated (AP) _ Federal jurors in New York awarded $7.975 million to the estate of an IBM executive killed in a Delta Air Lines crash, while a trial began in Florida on a $5 million suit brought by the parents of a teen-ager who also died in the accident.

Philip D. Estridge, 47, an IBM executive formerly of Boca Raton, died with his wife in the accident at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. In all, 137 people were killed when the Lockheed L-1011 crashed on approach on Aug. 2, 1985.

Lawyer Lee Kreindler, handling the suit filed by Estridge’s three daughters, said the sum awarded Monday was a record for compensatory damages in a wrongful death suit.

″We don’t think anything could have happened any better and we’re definitely relieved it’s over,″ said Evelyn Eubanks, one of the daughters. ″It doesn’t make it better, but it helps us to live with it.″

Shortly before Estridge died, the Jacksonville native was named overseer of IBM’s worldwide manufacturing operations, based in New York, at a salary of $240,000 yearly.

Of the $7.975 million, $2 million was for ″loss of life’s enjoyment,″ $200,000 was for pain and suffering and the rest for loss of projected earnings.

Delta lawyer John Sabetta declined to comment on the award, but told U.S. District Judge John Sprizzo he would appeal.

Meanwhile, a wrongful death suit on behalf of Julie Ann Zarnt, a Boca Jets youth football cheerleader, opened Monday with a 12-minute videotape highlighting her 15 years of life.

The first half of the tape was made from silent home movies. It showed her as a newborn first coming home and as a toddler celebrating birthdays and Christmas.

The tape prepared by the Zarnt’s attorney, Robert Montgomery, also showed the teen participating in a gymnastics meet and playing with a sister.

After their daughter’s death, Dennis Zarnt, a marketing executive with IBM in Boca Raton, and wife Gayle began undergoing therapy for ″deep psychological trauma″ that will affect them for the rest of their lives, psychiatrist Dr. Keith Haynes testified.

″It is not a good prognosis,″ Haynes told jurors hearing the case in federal court here.

Under a prearranged agreement with Delta, the Zarnts are seeking $5 million in compensatory rather than punitive damages. The compromise is similar to that made with nine of the 27 crash survivors, said airline lawyer Howard Barwick.

Delta has admitted responsibility for the crash. The trials have been on the amount of damages.

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