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Personal Injury Verdicts & Awards

Lawsuit blames pilot for helicopter crash



A company is accused of negligence for hiring pilot who crashed helicopter killing a former Mountaintop resident.

WILKES-BARRE - The pilot was to blame for a helicopter crash in North Carolina last year that killed a former Mountaintop woman, her husband and three other people, a lawsuit alleges.

Pamela Dadey and the others lost their lives because pilot John Elliott was flying at a drastically low altitude in an apparent attempt to escape heavy fog, said Joseph Quinn, attorney for Dadey's parents, Dale A. and Cheryl Nicholson of Fairview Township.

The Nicholsons have a lawsuit pending in a Mecklenburg County, N.C., against U.S. Helicopters, Inc., the owners of the aircraft that crashed May 25, 1998, while ferrying the Dadeys and two of their friends from the Charlotte Motor Speedway near Monroe. The foursome had just finished watching the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR race.

The suit, filed in December, is expected to go to trial in North Carolina early next year, Quinn said. Quinn, of the law firm HKQ Law in Wilkes-Barre, is lead counsel in the case. Attorneys Allen and Michael Bailey of Charlotte, N.C. are co-counsel.
Quinn said Elliott was flying a Bell 206 L-3 Long Ranger helicopter at an altitude of about 150 feet when the aircraft hit high tension power lines around 12:30 a.m.. The helicopter then slammed into a state highway, killing Dadey, 26, her husband, Kevin, 25 and the couple s friends, Craig Rudolph, 33 of Charlotte and Alexandra Schiffers, 30, of Matthews, N.C. Elliott, 49, of Lawndale, N.C. also was killed.

Quinn maintains Elliott should have been flying at an altitude of at least 500 feet. He said he believes Elliot was flying low because he was trying to fly beneath the fog. That would have allowed him to use the highway as a visual guide.

Quinn said Elliott should have taken the aircraft above the fog.

He alleges Elliot did not do that because it would require him to fly by instruments alone, and he was not certified to do that.
"Clearly, any skilled pilot will tell you when you encounter fog the prudent thing to do is to try to get above it," Quinn said.

Pamela Dadey was a field hockey player at Crestwood High School and an accomplished collegiate golfer at Penn State University. She and her husband, a golf pro at a North Carolina country club, had purchased a home shortly before their deaths, Quinn said.
"This was devastating to her family. They are just so overwhelmed by this," said Quinn, who added that Dadey was close with her parents, who often scheduled vacations so they could golf together.

"One of the ironies is her mother had hit a hole in one the day this happened. She couldn t wait to talk to Pam and tell her. Then she gets the call this terrible accident happened," Quinn said.

The lawsuit claims Elliot was negligent for falling to obtain a weather report prior to the flight that would have warned of the potential for fog, and for failing to return to the speedway after encountering the dangerous weather conditions. The suit further claims Elliott was familiar with the terrain, and should have known the high tension wires existed in the area of the crash.

U.S. Helicopters is accused of negligence for employing a pilot who was not instrument rated when it knew its pilots flew at night and under weather conditions that required use of instruments alone.

Quinn said claims filed on behalf of Kevin Dadey and Rudolph were settled out of court. A lawsuit filed by Schiffers family is pending.

PLEASE NOTE: Every case is fact specific, and these results do not guaranty the same results will be obtained in a different case.

About HKQ Law

Hourigan, Kluger & Quinn is considered one of the top civil litigation and commercial law firms that has had the privilege of representing more families in the courtroom than any other NEPA firm. The attorneys at HKQ Law have been honored as Super Lawyers, Best Lawyers, Best Law Firms by US News and World Report, and have received the AV Preeminent Rating by Martindale-Hubbel. HKQ Law was recently recognized for one of the top 20 Verdicts in Pennsylvania.

The firm’s Personal Injury Team, led by Attorney Joe Quinn, Jr., has won some of the largest verdicts and settlements in the region's history. The Personal Injury Team focuses on a wide array of personal injury claims and civil litigation, including medical malpractice, auto and truck accidents, aviation accidents, unsafe vehicles, dangerous or defective products, workplace injuries (worker's compensation), construction site accidents, claim denials by insurance companies, dangerous drugs, defective children's products, nursing home abuse and neglect, and falls due to unsafe conditions (slip and fall).

Attorney Joseph A Quinn, Jr. is one of only 100 attorneys in the United States (and one of only three in Pennsylvania) honored with membership in the Inner Circle of Trial Advocates, and one of only 500 attorneys worldwide chosen to be a Fellow of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers. He has been a Pennsylvania Super Lawyer every year since the program began and has been listed in The Best Lawyers in America every year since the publication was established in 1987. Best Lawyers also named him top personal injury attorney for Northeastern Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley. In addition, Best Lawyers, in conjunction with U.S. News & World Report, has designated HKQ a Tier 1 Best Law Firm across multiple categories in Northeastern Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley.

Since the inception of the firm, the Commercial / Corporate Team led by Attorney Allan Kluger has provided comprehensive, integrated legal services to many of Northeastern and Eastern Pennsylvania's largest corporations, businesses, banks, non-profits and institutions, handling matters involving labor and employment, wills, trusts and estate planning, estate administration, elder law, commercial transactions, residential and commercial real estate, zoning, land use and development, telecommunications, mediations and arbitrations, commercial litigation, title insurance, business planning and business succession, corporate/business structuring, employment discrimination law for employers, banking, creditor’s rights, finance, lender liability defense, covenants not to compete, construction law, mergers and acquisitions and other business matters.

Additional information can be found at or by calling (800) 760-1529.



As Hourigan, Kluger and Quinn addresses the concerns raised by COVID-19, the health and safety of our clients, employees and friends of the firm remain our top priority.

These are very difficult and scary times and we hope that you and your loved ones are safe and symptom free. We recognize that so many of you are understandably anxious about your health, the economic impact of this pandemic and all of the consequences of social isolation.

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