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Supreme Court of California, Los Angeles County

In this matter, a pilot sued the aviation company that leased his services after they failed to pay for repairs. The pilot also sued for defamation made against him in various emails. The defendant denied these emails were defamatory because they were allegedly true statements.

In ________, the plaintiff Randy S. traveled to China to participate in the China Air Race on behalf of Mach One Aviation, operating under an oral contract. Under that contract, the defendant agreed to pay Randy S. $________ for his services, including $________ for the use of his Lancair experimental aircraft, $________ for serving as the crew chief/mechanic for the planes, and to cover his expenses. The plaintiff contended that co-defendant David R., CEO of Mach One, guaranteed the safety of his plane.

The China Air Race involved a total of eight sorties (three planes per "race" at two different venues and two days per venue). The plaintiff refused to fly two races of day two of the first venue due to poor weather conditions. The plaintiff’s plane was damaged during transport between the first and second venue, resulting in $________ in repair costs (plaintiff’s estimate). The plaintiff also claimed $________ in unreimbursed expenses. The defendant refused to pay for the damages and the expense reimbursement.

The plaintiff filed suit in Los Angeles County Superior Court, naming defendants Mach One Aviation and its owner, David Riggs as defendants. Randy S. accused defendants of breaching their contract through failure to pay for repairs and out-of-pocket expenses, as well as defamation for numerous claims made via email to mutual acquaintances of the two parties. The plaintiff sought damages of $________ for repairs, $________ for unreimbursed expenses, and $________ for defamation. The plaintiff made a demand for $________. The defendant’s only offer was a mutual walk away resolution.

At trial, the plaintiff brought testimony from a witness to the oral contract between the two parties respecting the financial recovery of the plaintiff for repairs and out-of-pocket expenses. Respecting the defamation claim, the plaintiff brought email evidence in which the defendant claimed he had, while in China, 1) engaged the services of prostitutes; 2) nearly been arrested for swearing at a Chinese senior party official’s son; 3) threatened to "punch out" a Chinese senior party official and had attempted to disparage the senior party official; 4) been disrespectful to the Chinese nationals by calling them "Chinks" and "Morons"; 5) "seduced" a 19-year-old Chinese translator and got drunk with her; 6) committed acts of sexual harassment against other Chinese translators; 7) refused to do his job and assemble the planes in a prompt manner; 8) proven incapable of flying formation and refused to follow the course; and 9) insulted and abused two senior FAA Designated Examiners.

The defendant alleged that the plaintiff had refused to fly, costing them $________. The defendant Riggs denied ownership of Mach One, a corporation, claiming to only be its CEO. Testimony was brought regarding the contract in the form of a witness who offered a version of events different than the one heard from plaintiff’s witness. Regarding the defamation, they defended their claims, asserting that they were true. The defendant brought testimony from an independent witness in China whose testimony failed to support the defendant’s claims.After an eight day trial, the jury deliberated for three hours before returning a $________ verdict for the plaintiff, including $________ for breach of contract from Mach One Aviation and $________ from both defendants.

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