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Widow of Cory Lidle sues airplane manufacturer

When a person is injured by a dangerous product or by a product that malfunctions, the injury victim can sue for damages in what is called a product liability lawsuit. A recent lawsuit arising out of the death of Cory Lidle is an example of this type of lawsuit

Arguments have begun in a $50 million wrongful death lawsuit filed by the widow of New York Yankees’ pitcher Cory Lidle, who died with his flight instructor in a single-engine plane crash in 2006. The lawsuit claims a defect in the SR20’s flight control system was responsible for the fatal accident and blames the aircraft’s manufacturer, Cirrus Design Corporation.

Lidle was taking a flight lesson from his instructor in the dual-controlled plane over Manhattan when the aircraft crashed into the side of an apartment building. Although it has never been established whether the experienced instructor or the student, Lidle, was at the controls at the time of the crash, federal investigators have already investigated and concluded that the accident was caused by pilot error. The lawsuit disputes those findings.

The attorney in the case, representing both Lidle’s widow and the flight instructor’s family, told the court that there is proof that a mechanical defect prevented the pilots from being able to fly the plane by jamming the flight control system. The attorney for Cirrus Design countered that nothing was wrong with the inner workings of the airplane. He contended that the pilots lost control in the process of trying to negotiate a difficult 180-degree turn.

Each side in the wrongful death lawsuit is disavowing negligence. The family’s attorney says the pilots were helpless victims, while the airplane manufacturer believes that human error caused the fatal crash. Should the families’ attorney prove to the court that a product defect played any part in the accident; the plane-maker may be held legally and financially accountable for the crash that killed the pitcher and his instructor.

Source: Westlaw News, “Lidle widow’s case against plane maker opens in New York,” Bernd Debusmann Jr., 4/28/2011

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