Friday, September 5, 2014

lIlinois Federal District Court Grants Summary Judgment to Defendants for Product Liability Claims Arising Out of 2005 Crash of Commuter Plane in Queensland, Australia

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois recently granted summary judgment dismissing all claims against Hamilton Sundstrand Corp., Honeywell International, Inc. and Jeppeson Sanderson, Inc., each of which was sued for product liability arising out of the May 7, 2005 crash in Australia of a Metro 23 commuter plane operated by Transair.  The court dismissed the product liability claims against Hamilton Sundstrand Corp. on the ground that it did not manufacture or sell the GPWS computer on board the aircraft.  The court noted that Hamilton Sundstrand had sold its entire GPWS business in 1993, seven years before the GPWS system at issue was manufactured.  Additionally, plaintiffs offered no evidence in support of their allegations that the GPWS computer was defectively designed or dangerous.  The court also dismissed the claims against Honeywell International, Inc. on the ground that the plaintiffs failed to present evidence that the accident aircraft was equipped with a Honeywell GPWS computer at the time of the crash or that it was defective.  No GPWS was discovered in the wreckage, no maintenance log exists identifying a GPWS computer on the aircraft, and because the aircraft's cockpit voice recorder was not functioning, it did not capture crew dialogue or any aural alert from a GPWS mechanism.  Plaintiffs' bare allegations that the GPWS must have been defective because the crew did not respond as expected to a GPWS alert were too speculative to survive a summary judgment motion.  Finally, the court dismissed the claims against Jeppeson Sanderson because there was insufficient evidence that the crew actually used Jeppeson's chart at the time of the accident or that the chart actually contributed to the accident.  Thornton v. Hamilton Sundstrand Corp., 2014 WL 3107961 (N.D. Ill., July 8, 2014).

Information Provided by Clyde & Co

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