Family Awarded $9 Million in Bombing CaseBy David Von Drehle
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, July 23, 1992; Page A03
NEW YORK, JULY 22 -- After three days pondering the value of a life cut short, a federal jury in Brooklyn today awarded $9.23 million to the family of a man killed in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.
The award came in the first of what could be hundreds of trials following the jury's verdict July 10 holding Pan American World Airways responsible for inadequate security. Of the 270 people killed in the terrorist attack, survivors of 213 are plaintiffs in the suit.
For three days, the jurors heard testimony concerning the earning power, expected life span and family graces of Robert Pagnucco. When he died at 51, Pagnucco was assistant general counsel to PepsiCo Inc., the food and soft-drink giant. He had a wife and four children, the youngest of whom was 12; he made $160,000 a year and had millions of dollars worth of stock options.
"There aren't too many people in our society who have achieved what Bob Pagnucco has achieved," plaintiffs' attorney Lee S. Kreindler told the jury. Kreindler asked for $25.25 million; the jury deliberated two hours before reaching its decision.
In detailing the award, jurors put the economic loss to Pagnucco's family at $6 million, awarding the rest for their loss of a husband and father.
Pan Am Corp., the airline's parent company, shuttered its operations last year and filed for bankruptcy protection, but the damage awards are covered by the company's insurance. Pan Am officials said earlier this month that the company intends to appeal the verdicts.
Because of a gag order imposed by U.S. District Judge Thomas C. Platt Jr., attorneys for the two sides have been unable to comment on the decisions.
During the first phase of the trial, Kreindler convinced the jury that Pan Am and two subsidiaries were guilty of "willful misconduct" in allowing a bomb to be smuggled onto the flight. He contended that the bomb was packed in a suitcase that went unaccompanied to Frankfurt aboard Air Malta. In Frankfurt, he argued, it was transferred to the Pan Am flight without inspection, despite the fact that it had no one traveling with it.
Kreindler also convinced the 12 jurors that the company's security officers and baggage handlers should have caught the danger -- and that part of the reason they failed was that the failing company cut corners to save money.
Attorneys for Pan Am and its insurance companies said their clients should not be held responsible for terrorist acts. They also presented another theory of the crime: that the bomb was hidden inside a cassette tape player, and that it was smuggled into the passenger compartment during a stop either in Frankfurt or in London.
Two Libyans were indicted by a grand jury in Washington last year in connection with the bombing, but the Libyan government has refused to turn the men over for trial in the United States.
On Monday, the Brooklyn jury will begin pondering the value of another life, that of a second PepsiCo executive.
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