TORTS (PRODUCT LIABILITY) & MOTOR CARRIERS / Federal Motor Carrier Administration regulations would be admitted into evidence to show existence of defect in a trailer in product liability case for wrongful death in traffic accidents.

The Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and FMCSA Regulations in combination comprise “a consistent and mutually-supportive set of regulations, as intended by Congress in the Vehicle Safety Act.”

Bradley v. Fontaine Trailer Co. Inc., Slip copy, 2013 WL 74238 (U.S. District Court for Connecticut, January 4, 2013). Free copy available here.

TORTS & AVIATION (GARA) / Under the General Aviation Revitalization Act (“GARA”) statute of repose for aircraft manufacturers wrongful death plaintiffs raised a genuine issue of material fact relating that posed a legal question as to whether or not the “rolling provision” applied to restart GARA’s 18-year limitations period.

Sulak v. American Eurocopter Corp., 2012 WL 6567237 (U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, December 17, 2012). No free copy available at time of posting.

Who is affected? Manufacturers of general aviation aircraft and other equipment; and tort plaintiffs claiming products liability in regard to such equipment.

Wrongful death plaintiffs raised a genuine issue of material fact relating to the time at which the lock washer had been replaced and the maintenance manuals had been amended with respect to the subject aircraft (helicopter).  Continue reading


Lidle v. Cirrus Design Corp., 2012 WL 6603388 (U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, December 19, 2012). Free copy available here.

Where wrongful death action against aircraft manufacturer had focused on allegation that incorrectly rigged rudder-aileron interconnect on aircraft caused crash, the Second Circuit ruled that trial court’s exclusion from evidence of the fact that FAA had issued Airworthiness Directive mandating adjustments to rudder-aileron interconnect on all aircraft of the model at issue in this litigation did not constitute an abuse of discretion.  Continue reading

UPCOMING: AVIATION & TORT (PRODUCT LIABILITY) / (1) General Aviation Act of 1994 (“GARA”) has a “fraud” exception where the manufacturer “withholds” from the FAA “required information” about the aircraft’s operation. (2) Aircraft of identical model had been subject of a British CAA report about a major safety flaw. (3) Aircraft manufacturer had not informed FAA about the British CAA report. In this case did the British CAA report constitute “required information” thereby triggering GARA “fraud” exception?

Before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

Ovesen v. Mitsubishi XYZ Corporations, 2012 WL 677953


Pending Appeal: 

On Appeal from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Oveson v. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries of American, Inc., 2012 WL 677953 (February 29, 2012). Free copy available here.

How Appellant-Wrongful Death Plaintiff Describes the Case:

Appellant-Wrongful Death Plaintiff describes question in terms of two successive rulings issued by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

In the first the court ruled that manufacturer’s failure to disclose the British CAA report regarding the model of manufacturer’s aircraft in which wrongful death decent was killed constituted evidence that manufacturer had “knowingly misrepresented, concealed, or withheld required information that was material and relevant and that was causally related” to decedent’s death.

Put another way, the U.S. District Court ruled that the “fraud” exception issue under GARA should go to the jury.

In the second the court ruled that the fact of the British CAA report did not constitute “required information” under 14 C.F.R. § 21.3(d)(2) for reporting to the FAA within the meaning of the GARA “fraud” exception “because the particular Aircraft in question was manufactured under an import type certificate number A2PC issued under § 21.29”. Continue reading