Family of jogger killed by fallen plane in South Carolina sues

In March 2010, a kit-built aircraft crashed on the beach in Hilton Head, South Carolina, killing a jogger. In the wake of the accident, the victim’s estate brought a federal product liability lawsuit against the plane’s manufacturer, Continental Motors, alleging that a defective engine caused the crash.

The lawsuit also names the plane’s pilot and several other parties who were involved in the plane’s manufacturing and maintenance as defendants. It alleges that the experimental Lancair IV-P plane crashed onto the beach after a defect in the engine caused the plane to lose its propeller while flying over the Atlantic.

Continental Motors denies these claims and points to a report by the National Transportation Safety Board stating that investigators found no “anomalies” in the engine’s assembly. Instead, the report concluded that “external impact stress” likely caused the propeller to dismantle, potentially after striking a bird or some other object.

Lawyers for the accident victim’s estate said that the NTSB’s investigation was brief, and that a more extensive evaluation is needed to determine if a defect in the engine in fact caused the plane to go down.

The same lawsuit was filed in Alabama, where Continental Motors is based, and Delaware, where Continental Motors is incorporated. These lawsuits were put on hold, only to be pursued if the plaintiff is denied the right to sue in South Carolina.

Attorneys for Continental Motors have asked that the case is transferred out of South Carolina because it is not the company’s home state; however, Tucson accident attorneys for the accident victim’s estate argue that the company has sufficient ties to South Carolina to warrant jurisdiction.

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