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Wed, Apr 28, 2004

Broadcasters Sue Crash Widow

They Want Damages And Lost Revenue

Gilbert Paquette had a million-dollar life insurance policy when his small Cessna became impaled on a broadcast tower in Quebec three years ago.

But in a move that left his survivors flabbergasted, the broadcasters that used the wrecked tower are suing the family for all that and much more.

"Someone else read all of this (legal paperwork) to me because I was too shocked," said his widow, Francoise Jolin, in an interview with the all-news channel LCN. "I had a bad night and I wasn't even able to read the text."

Francois has three children in college. After being floored by the 2001 accident, which left both the aircraft and the dead pilot hanging from the tower for five days before the structure was demolished, the family is now being sued for more than $3.5 million.

"What is the worst for me is the time it will take to resolve this," she said. "Until this is resolved, we can't live a normal life. I have three children who are in school and it disturbs their studies. I don't want them to fail their courses."

And time is certainly not on her side, according to Canadian constitutional lawyer Julius Grey.

"It's clear that death does not wipe out liability," he told Canadian Press. "If it (did), it would be too easy. Everybody dies in the end and we do not have a holiday on liability."

The decision in this case could have wide-ranging implications for all Canadians, Grey said. "If you have a fire that starts in your house through some negligence, and the whole block burns down, even if you die in the fire, what could happen is a liability that exceeds everything."

Worse, Grey said he's worried that the precedent set in this case could have a severe impact on Canadian pilots. "Quebec pilots are asking themselves what they can do to protect themselves and protect their families against unfortunate and unexpected events."

FMI: www.copanational.org

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