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ARTICLE ID 29002

$________ - WRONGFUL DEATH - AVIATION PRODUCTS LIABILITY - NEGLIGENT FAILURE TO WARN OF POTENTIAL HAZARD CAUSED BY PREVIOUS PROP STRIKE - PROPELLER ON PLANE DISENGAGES FROM CRANKSHAFT IN FLIGHT STRIKING CONTROL SURFACE AND CAUSING FATAL CRASH - WRONGFUL DEATH OF DECEDENTS HUSBAND AND WIFE.

Jackson County, Missouri

The decedents husband and wife were the sole occupants of a ________ Cessna ________ L aircraft en-route to Potosi, Missouri. The plaintiff estate contended that the airplane’s propeller disengaged from the crankshaft while the plane was in flight. The propeller struck the empennage of the plane causing a loss of control. The plaintiff contended that the defendants, the engine manufacturer and the propeller repair shop, negligently failed to properly notify the decedent pilot of the danger to the engine caused by a prop strike which occurred several years earlier. The defendants contended that it was the prior prop strike sustained by the aircraft that was the cause of the crash and maintained that the decedent had, in fact, been notified that a prop strike would render the engine unreliable.

On April 24, ________, the decedent Donald Mercer, an experienced pilot, and his wife took off from the Gallatin Airport near their home in Henderson, Tennessee. The couple were en-route to Donald Mercer’s brother’s funeral in Potosi, Missouri. About 75 minutes into the flight, at an altitude of ________-________ feet above Framington, Missouri, the propeller suddenly disengaged from the crankshaft.

The propeller struck the empennage, which is the rear and tail part of the aircraft. This caused Mr. Mercer to lose control of the aircraft. The husband attempted an emergency landing of the aircraft, however, the field he was attempting to land in contained eight children playing. Witnesses stated that the pilot p 7 3 made a sharp bank to a nose down attitude away from the children whereupon the plane plunged to the ground. Both the husband, age 72 and his wife, age 69, were fatally injured.

Over four years earlier, the decedent had lent his plane to another local hobby pilot. While this other pilot was taxiing the aircraft out of the hangar, the propeller came in contact with the hangar door and rendered the plane unflyable. The decedent took the plane to a local repair shop at the airport. The repair shop lacked the specialized expertise in repairing propellers and transported the plane by truck to the defendant Sensenich Propeller Company in Marietta, Georgia for repair. This defendant repaired the propeller and approximately ________ hours of airtime were logged on the plane after the repair was completed.

The plaintiff contended that the defendant engine manufacturer failed to properly notify the decedent pilot that damage to the propeller from a prop strike could cause the propeller to become disengaged from the crankshaft and engine. The plaintiff claimed that as a result of the prop strike, the crankshaft fractured at the flange, which is where the propeller attaches to and interfaces with the engine. The plaintiff contended that the prop strike caused a latent or fatigue fracture within the crankshaft which later spread and which ultimately caused the propeller to become disengaged from the engine.

The plaintiff further contended that it was well known in the aviation industry that a prop strike can cause internal damage to an engine which requires a complete tear down and inspection of the engine to determine if there were any new or beginning cracks before the plane could be safely flown again. In this instance, however, the defendants did not properly notify the decedent of this fact. The defendant engine manufacturer sent a service letter to the decedent pilot which failed to clearly state what type of damage to the propeller would constitute a prop strike necessitating such a tear down and inspection.

The plaintiff contended that in failing to clearly state what types of incidents which qualified as prop strikes necessitating complete engine tear down and inspection, the defendants left this critical decision in the hands of the owner, who was not qualified to make such a decision.

The defendants contended that the decedent had received adequate notice and that there was no liability on their part.

Prior to trial, the matter settled for $________.

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