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Jury: airplane maker not responsible for fatal Yankees crash

Earlier this month, we wrote about a lawsuit that had been filed against airplane manufacturer Cirrus by the widow of former New York Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle. According to the wrongful death lawsuit, Melanie Lidle alleged that design flaws in the Cirrus SR-20 were responsible for the tragic airplane crash that took her husband's life. This week, a jury disagreed with that allegation, ruling that Cirrus was not liable for the airplane crash or Lidle's death.

The fatal plane crash occurred in October of 2006 when Lidle and his flight instructor departed the Teterboro Airport in New Jersey, with plans to fly over parts of New York before flying the Cirrus airplane to California. However, just north of the Queensboro Bridge, the plane began to spin out of control, eventually crashing into a condominium building in New York's Upper East Side and plunging to the ground in flames. Both men were killed instantly.

In May 2007, a National Transportation Safety Board review found that pilot error was responsible for the fatal accident. However, the widows of the deceased men refused to believe that report and filed a lawsuit against Cirrus, claiming that both Lidle and his flight instructor were experienced pilots who could not have been responsible for the crash.

The six-person jury did not agree, clearing Cirrus of any liability for the men's deaths. The attorney representing the widows stated that he expected the verdict after the judge refused to allow testimony that Cirrus changed its manufacturing processes after the crash, as well as the testimony of a flight instructor who barely avoided a similar crash less than a year earlier. The widows plan to appeal the verdict.

Source: Bloomberg, "Cirrus Cleared by Jury in Yankees Player's Fatal Plane Crash," Chris Dolemtsch, 24 May 2011

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