Vans Aircraft sued for $35M

Discussion in 'Home Builders and Sport Pilots' started by TangoWhiskey, Oct 20, 2015.

  1. TangoWhiskey

    TangoWhiskey Touchdown! Greaser!

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    http://www.kgw.com/story/news/2015/...t-plane-crash-files-35-million-suit/74281364/

    Van's didn't build the plane... the step-grandfather of the 4 year old who died in the crash did.

    "The lawsuit claims that homebuilt airplanes like the RV-10 they were flying are dangerous to riders because they are not held to the same safety standards as professionally built airplanes."

    So the EXPERIMENTAL label and placard in the airplane, which warned the mother (who was also on board), is now being used to sue the kit manufacturer.

    [​IMG]

    I'm sorry for her loss, but... :confused: :no:
     
  2. frfly172

    frfly172 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    An unfortunate accident,was it the kit or the way it was assembled. May the mother recover,and may the pilot and granddaughter rest in peace.
     
  3. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Oh gawd
     
  4. kyleb

    kyleb En-Route

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    The owner/builder used RTV as a sealant when he changed something in the fuel delivery system. (You never use RTV on a fuel system). A chunk of the RTV came loose, lodged in the fuel flow sensor, and caused the engine to stop due to fuel starvation.

    Your basic case of bad owner/builder modification's/maintenance.
     
  5. TangoWhiskey

    TangoWhiskey Touchdown! Greaser!

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    That's sad, Kyle. To lose a lives over something so simple.

    Hopefully it will be easy for Vans lawyers to defend.
     
  6. Clark1961

    Clark1961 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    With a dead child to sway emotion (somebody has to pay!) and a large $$$ target, if the lawyers can get the jury to assign 10% of the blame to Vans...the lawyers win and walk away with a million for a few hours of work.

    No, I'm not jaded or anything, thank you for asking.
     
  7. ollopa

    ollopa Line Up and Wait

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    And then he forgot how to fly an airplane, stalled, and landed nose-first on a spot directly below him.

    This one wasn't the fault of the kit manufacturer.
     
  8. txflyer

    txflyer En-Route

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    Exactly why we forbid under age hunters or practically anyone under age from using the ranch. It's sad, but that's the world we live in.

    When a child dies, all bets are off. Jury's cry their eyeballs out and award the Mom millions every time. Then the judge has to correct it or strike it down if your lucky.

    RIP
     
  9. kyleb

    kyleb En-Route

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    The sad thing is this was an easily avoidable accident if the builder/maintainer had paid attention. There are tons of good resources for homebuilders, beginning with 43.13, through various EAA publications, and then to type specific forums (where you have to sort the wheat from the chaff, as it were). In addition, there are EAA tech counselors and friendly A&P's who are very happy to answer any question a builder might have. If the builder had engaged "the process" he would have seen the light about RTV and the accident wouldn't have happened.

    Bottom line - if you know people building and/or restoring airplanes, make sure they are engaged with the various resources at their disposal. Guys building in a vacuum or near-vacuum are at a much higher risk.
     
  10. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Super Moderator Management Council Member

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    I'm curious for how this is expected to go. In the certified world we know how these lawsuits go. Is there any precedent in the experimental world?
     
  11. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Sad, but true.

    All the BS which has been done "for the children" :dunno:



    This is Vans fault again, how?
     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2015
  12. LDJones

    LDJones Touchdown! Greaser!

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    The freedom to experiment means you also assume the liability for the experiments. Sadly, the punishment is in the process, even if Van's is absolved of liability. But, I'm sure they've been through this before and have their ducks in a row.
     
  13. LDJones

    LDJones Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I believe Van's has been sued a number of times, but to date have fared pretty well. Show a jury the FAA-mandated placard and it's pretty hard find liability short of showing some major design flaw that lead to the crash. Based on the early post about the RTV, I'd think this one should go their way. But the problem with juries is...they are people. You can never predict for sure.
     
  14. Phoenix

    Phoenix Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Part of being in the cool and groovy aviation business. Guessing he is sorted for this, hope he doesn't lose any sleep over it.
     
  15. docmirror

    docmirror Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I'm no fan of Vans planes, nor a jury trial for this stuff. Guessing this is going to be a long drawn out process, with lots of witnesses and discovery. Once it's in front of the jury, all bets are off. Vans might want to frame their defense for a directed verdict, as disgusting as that sounds. Lots of techno-legal-jargon-babble that only a judge will grasp.
     
  16. Dav8or

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    The only problem is, the NTSB reports are never admitted in to the court for these lawsuits. So Vans will have to present their own case as to the pilot entering a stall. That could open up a whole other can of worms when the plaintiff starts asking questions about Van's stall recovery testing and why the wing wasn't designed to have an even more stall resistant characteristics? They might just want to let this aspect of the accident lay where it is.

    Best to focus on what made the motor quit. Vans didn't make the motor and they didn't do the assembly. However the instruction manual better be in order and clarify that you shouldn't use RTV, if not there could be trouble for them.
     
  17. zwaustin

    zwaustin Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Sad that in today's society this is the go to fix; just sue them. Unfortunate for good business who make a great product that others love.
     
  18. Fearless Tower

    Fearless Tower Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Not so sure it has anything to do with 'today's' society'. I've been hearing that line for 40 years, and I'm pretty sure it's been going longer than that.
     
  19. Phoenix

    Phoenix Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Can you imagine how bad homebuilts would be without scumbag sue happy lawyers circling the boat?:rofl::mad2:;):lol:
     
  20. write-stuff

    write-stuff En-Route

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    You'd think, but we see these kinds of actions over and over again. Someone using the system as a means to procure income rather than dispense justice. Probably one of the biggest reasons medical services are so expensive.
     
  21. Jimmy cooper

    Jimmy cooper En-Route

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    It isn't just "today's society. " It's been going on for years. England has solved a great deal of this by making the person bringing the suit pay (plaintiff) if the person being sued is found not guilty. I'm sure Vans has an excellent lawyer and if not they might contact jim Beasley in Philadelphia as this would be right up his alley. ( recall the ford pinto lawsuit which was total garbage if you followed the findings carefully. Same with toyota. ) same with many suits brought by family's of people killed in aircraft,often due to bad decisions .
     
  22. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Of course. Wouldn't want facts getting in the way of a lawyers paycheck. :mad2:
     
  23. LDJones

    LDJones Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I don't think you can equate the a medical professional to an amateur experimental aircraft home-builder. One has a standard of care. The other...not so much. Which is why the placard is required.

    Van's has been sued many times over the last 20 years. If it was a big problem he would have been out of business before I ever bought a tail kit from him in 1998.
     
  24. LDJones

    LDJones Touchdown! Greaser!

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    The most the lawyer will get out of this is token nuisance settlement...if that.
     
  25. LDJones

    LDJones Touchdown! Greaser!

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  26. 455 Bravo Uniform

    455 Bravo Uniform Line Up and Wait

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    Will it even get to trial? Unless there is a point to be made by someone trying to change regs, or "teach someone a lesson", or wipe out the competition, I am guessing this gets settled out of court.
     
  27. write-stuff

    write-stuff En-Route

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    I'd guess the same. That's the goal - to receive money.
     
  28. Clark1961

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    There's already been a offer made before it gets filed. This stuff gets really weird and people get stupid.
     
  29. N801BH

    N801BH Touchdown! Greaser!

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  30. Geico266

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    Improper use of materials for their intended purpose. RTV silicone as a fuel thread sealant? It say right on the label of most not to use directly on fuel or oil. The law suit doesn't stand a chance in hell.
     
  31. N801BH

    N801BH Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Agreed....
    But, stranger things have happened...

    Like.. OJ Simpson got off...:mad2::mad2::mad2::mad2:
     
  32. Jim Logajan

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  33. N801BH

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  34. LDJones

    LDJones Touchdown! Greaser!

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    And most definitely WILL be by whichever side those items tends to support.
     
  35. docmirror

    docmirror Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I get where the plaintiff is coming from directing this at Vans and Flo-Scan. If you look at the actual labor involved by the builder, it's more like 5% rather than 51%. No homebuilder ever forged/cast their own crankshaft. No one milled the Al, nor did they weave the fabric, or shape and age the wood. The 51% rule is 'assembly' of existing components into a plane-like device provided pre-finished and semi finished materials.

    OTOH, the word 'Experimental' defines the nature of the attempted/completed assembly using those materials. This builder(assembler) decided to experiment with a product to seal the NPT threads. The experiment was a failure, but it was an experiment, and thus allowed under the rules.
     
  36. Dav8or

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    And this is what it's all about. The Plaintiffs are just fishing for a settlement. Any number of millions will do. They know damn well it's cheaper to buy them off than go to trial.

    Our system is garbage. It's designed to make lawyers rich. This is one instance where we need to be "progressive" and follow the Europeans. Loser pays!
     
  37. Fearless Tower

    Fearless Tower Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Which is really sad. This woman was duped by an ambulance chaser to thinking she could get a lot of money and if it ever goes to trial, she'll have to see any credibility of the father/step-father torn to shreds.

    No one wins....except the ambulance chaser who gets a fee regardless. I doubt he's doing this pro bono.
     
  38. Fearless Tower

    Fearless Tower Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I agree. I think that is the only way we are going to reform the system here.
     
  39. Geico266

    Geico266 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    You are misunderstanding the 51% rule.

    Exactly right.

    The plans to build the planes have warnings about using the wrong materials for the wrong spplications and using aviation grade materials at all situations where practical.
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2015
  40. Geico266

    Geico266 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    The attorney fees are usually based on a percentage of the gamein these cases, not by the hour.