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Court Won’t Revive Trump Suit In Employee Deaths

October 5, 1992 GMT

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Supreme Court today refused to revive developer Donald Trump’s lawsuit seeking monetary damages for the deaths of three executive employees in a 1989 helicopter crash.

The court, without comment, rejected arguments that said Trump’s suit against the helicopter’s manufacturers and operator should have been handled in a New Jersey state court, not federal court.

Stephen Hyde, Mark Etess and Jonathan Benanav were killed Oct. 10, 1989, when the helicopter in which they were riding crashed during a flight from New York to Atlantic City.


Hyde was in charge of all of Trump’s Atlantic City casino operations; Etess headed the Trump Taj Mahal, and Benanav was vice president of the Trump Plaza hotel.

Industry analysts have said the three executives’ deaths contributed to the financial decline of Trump’s Atlantic City operations.

Trump’s three Atlantic City casinos and Helicopter Air Services sued, in New Jersey state court, the three Italian corporations that manufactured the helicopter, their U.S. subsidiary, Agusta Aviation Corp. Also named as a defendant was Paramount Aviation, which operated the helicopter.

The lawsuit sought damages for loss of the executives’ services, loss of profits and payment of workers’ compensation benefits.

The defendants successfully had the case moved to federal court because one defendant was owned by the Italian government.

A federal judge said the case was essentially a wrongful-death lawsuit and that corporations may not recover damages in such suits. The judge also said Trump could not be repaid for workers’ compensation benefits paid to the victims’ families because his companies did not give adequate notice they would seek reimbursement.

The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the dismissal, saying it could not predict that New Jersey courts would award damages under the state’s wrongful- death law.

In seeking Supreme Court review, Trump said the one defendant manufacturer was owned only indirectly by the Italian government, and that the case should therefore should not have been transferred to federal court.

Two previous rulings by the New Jersey Supreme Court allowed payment for similar losses, Trump’s appeal said.

The case is Trump Taj Mahal vs. Costruzioni Aeronautiche Giovanni, 91-1986.