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Sixth Circuit dismisses claim against airplance engine manufacturer

Larry Crouch and Teddy Lee Hudson suffered spinal cord injuries including paralysis when the engine on their aircraft quit at 5,000 feet.  Crouch, the pilot, was able to crash land the airplane in an open field in a controlled dive after the magneto apparently detached from the engine.  Crouch and Hudson sued the Honeywell International corporation and AVCO (Lycoming), basically arguing that the engine had a dangerous propensity which was known to the manufacturer, not properly addressed either on re-build or in the post-manufacturing service instructions.

The trial judge dismissed the plaintiffs' claims, holding that the statute limiting aircraft manufacturer liability 18 years after manufacture (the GARA) applied to all of the Plaintiffs' claims.  The Plaintiffs sought to amend their complaint, after the judge dismissed, arguing that their newly discovered evidence demonstrated that the manufacturer had misrepresented its knowledge to regulators, thereby precluding application of the GARA.  The Court of Appeals held that the "newly discovered evidence" wasn't that new and that the interest in finality of judgments trumped the plaintiffs' right to amend their original complaint.

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