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Appeals Court Throws Out $2.1 Million Judgment In USAir Case

February 25, 1994

SAN DIEGO (AP) _ An appeals court threw out a $2.1 million judgment for a pilot who sued USAir over injuries he claims he suffered when rain repellent seeped into the cockpit of his plane during a flight.

The 4th District Court of Appeal’s decision Wednesday reversed a 1990 jury judgment for Richard O’Harren and the justices ordered the case dismissed.

The court concluded that O’Harren’s claims should have been handled through the workers’ compensation process rather than the courts. They also said the judgment was not supported by evidence.

O’Harren’s attorney, Lance Schaeffer, planned an appeal.

O’Harren was flying for Pacific Southwest Airlines, later taken over by USAir, when canisters of rain repellent leaked into the cockpit during a Dec. 4, 1984, flight from San Diego to Oakland. The repellent contains a toxin known as Freon 113 and CFC-113.

O’Harren initially complained of irritated eyes, but his condition worsened to include nosebleeds, rapid heartbeat, blurred vision and ringing ears.

Within two months, O’Harren was found to be unable to fly. He filed a workers’ compensation claim.

At trial, O’Harren contended that the airline caused him distress by discounting his injuries, downplaying the hazards of the repellent and trying to discredit him.

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