Paul J. DeMarco and John M. Bergquist recently secured a defense verdict on behalf of an aircraft tool manufacturer in a wrongful death products liability case that was tried before Judge Annemarie Axon in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama. The wrongful death action was brought by the Estate of an FAA licensed aircraft mechanic who sustained a fatal head injury when he was struck by the propeller of a single engine airplane while he was performing maintenance on the engine. The Plaintiff alleged that the Differential Pressure Tester was negligently and/or wantonly designed and that its instructions were defective such that the tool manufacturer was liable to the deceased under the Alabama Extended Manufacturers Liability Doctrine and under common law product liability based on negligence and/or wantonness and failure to warn. After a five-day trial, the case was submitted to the jury on the AEMLD claim and the common law products liability claims based upon negligence. The defendant pleaded contributory negligence and assumption of the risk as defenses while denying that the Differential Pressure Tester was the proximate cause of the injury. During the course of the trial, defense counsel obtained admissions from multiple witnesses that he made a series of mistakes while performing maintenance on the single engine airplane, including standing in the path of the propeller and failure to follow the Tester’s instructions which would have prevented the accident from occurring.
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