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Cessna pays $1.6million

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We got "change" alright.
Nov 26, 2001
Cessna Aircraft Company has agreed to pay $1.6 million to settle wrongful death
lawsuits in the October 16, 2000, crash of a Cessna 335 in Hillsboro, Missouri,
that took the lives of Missouri Gov. Mel Carnahan, his son Randy, and campaign
aide Chris Sifford, "The Wichita Eagle" reported. Cessna paid $800,000 to the
Carnahan family, an additional $400,000 in the death of Randy Carnahan, and
$400,000 to the Sifford family. Cessna had no comment on the settlement, but
an official said that the company is pleased that the NTSB report on the
accident is "favorable to Cessna." The report said the pilot, Randy Carnahan,
was disoriented after the airplane's primary attitude indicator failed in poor
weather about 30 miles south of St. Louis. The report, AAB-02-02, can be seen
on the NTSB Web site ( http://www.ntsb.gov/Publictn/A_Acc1.htm ). Three other
companies, two of them manufacturers of the primary attitude indicator and
vacuum system, remain defendants in the lawsuits. "

God bless those lost and their families, but come on. Now it's Cessna's fault that the pilot couldn't fly partial panel? I guess that would mean that all the other accidents from the past resulting in an accident from gyro loss are candidates for big money lawsuits now, right?
This litigation has ticked me off from the start. I think all pilots should send Mrs. C an e-mail thanking her for helping to raise the insurance rates for all the pilots who wouldn't have been out in such crappy weather in the first place. Pilot error? Not her son, he was just a poor victim. Makes me wish I lived in Missouri so I could vote against her.
I've been flying her around on the campaign trail in a baron. She sure isn't scared to get right back in a similarly equipped airplane.

I've been tempted so say something to her about it, but she's just so darn nice to me.
Looks like the base price for a new 182 will go up to $399,999. Thanks Senator Carnahan, may you get trounced this fall!!:mad:
Actually this is a very small number -- $500,000 each person and we don't know their personal net worth. Cessna would easily pay that amount just to litigate it and then could lose and pay three possibly five times that amount. Personally I don't think this will affect any insurance premiums unlike 9/11.

I told my wife when we first got married not to ever under any circumstances sue any aviation companies if I get killed in an airplane. I told her even if the wings just fall off I don't want her suing anyone. I've provided her with financial protection via life insurance and I don't want some scumbag ambulance chasing lawyer ruining a company that is just trying to make an honest living. Flying is my passion and it's my choice. I gladly and knowingly assume all the responsibility for the risks involved. It's not outsider litigation driving up the cost of GA, it's pilots and their families doing all the suing. Tell your families, "NO LAWSUITS!"
You know, Caveman, I've been thinking the same thing. I don't have the type family that would stoop to such antics in the first place, but I've been thinking I should nevertheless make it clear I'd find a way to haunt them if they did.
I disagree with Caveman. It's great that you have set yourself up with insurance for your wife, however, it's not your right to make a choice for your wife to sue or not to sue. Have you seen the video of the C130's wings folding up during a firebombing mission, I think you know my point.

Risks: What if a mechanic cut the some wires on your plane just to get a few more hours in on a job -- your willing to take that risk? Some mechanic did such a thing to a freighter 727 I believe in the Northwestern U.S., I as a pilot would be horrified. As I understand it your willing to take that risk and fly away into the wild brown dirt?

The PIC in this case had some 1700 hours which seems to me to be enough, however, from what I can tell mistakes were made, but that's what discovery is about, was it a system or the pilot.

There has to be incentives to take care or there would be zero!

If you have questions about what the NTSB did in the Carnahan investigation, you can find its report at this link:


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If someone made a mistake with blatent disregard for my safety and the integrity of the airplane, then I would want my family to get every last dime...BUT. They are airplanes and they break, things wear out, and suprises happen. It's the nature of the business and that's why we are so well steeped in emergency procedures. It just common sense to me. This ruling, no matter what the costs or how minimal, sets an example for suits in the future.

The sad part is, I'm willing to bet they even had an HSI since the HI wasn't mentioned as a part of a total failure.
Ok, a sip from the firehose:

1.) The problem is, you don't know what caused the crash until the NTSB finishes, or even later. On crashes of less importance to the public, the NTSB just does not expend as many resources -- it doesn't have them to spend. You may need the discovery process of litigation to get at the real cause -- you want your own experts to look at the wreckage and so forth. To do that, you have to initiate the suit. If you wait too long, and then find out the cause was someone's blatant or reckless mistake, you might have missed your chance to sue. Also, witnesses die, wander off, documents get lost, etc. It's important to start things rolling -- if the evidence points toward letting defendants off the hook, then you settle, as they did here.

2.) This outcome wasn't a "ruling," it was a settlement -- worked out between the parties. If Cessna went through to trial, it could have spent this much just on its defense, and if it lost at trial, the number would have been a lot larger, considering the folks who died here. If you add up the lost lifetime earnings and other damages on the average professional pilot, it could easily exceed $1.6 million, and here you had a sitting governor who was running for Senate, and two young guys with promising careers. On this airplane, Cessna's best defense would have been GARA -- the 18-year federal statute of repose (liability limit) on older aircraft models. That is probably the leverage that enabled Cessna to get the settlement.

3.) I don't think there was an HSI -- this was an old Cessna 335 and the NTSB says it was an "attitude indicator/flight director." This airplane probably would have had an old Nav-o-matic 400 system in it.

Something all of us should consider, too, is that as pilots we would probably be named as defendants in a case like this -- even if we were dead. You would want your families to have some leverage to get that case settled by filing their own actions as plaintiffs.


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