Jury vindicates Terre Haute company in California aircraft crash suit

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A Terre Haute aviation-services company that was sued for more than $455,000 in damages after an agriculture aircraft crashed on takeoff prevailed in a unanimous defense verdict handed down in a California trial court.

Terre Haute-based Turbines Inc. was found not responsible for the crash. Williams AG Service Inc. sued claiming negligence, breach of contract and breach of warranty after a crash that it asserted was the result of an improperly installed engine conversion kit. The jury cleared Turbines Inc. after deliberating for two hours.

Turbines was represented by Frost Brown Todd Dallas member Bryan P. Rose. In a statement, the firm said Rose proved in the Superior Court of California, County of Butte, that the kit had been installed correctly and that the plaintiff had modified the aircraft shortly before the accident, which was nearly a year after Turbines Inc. completed the install. The jury also agreed the engine failure was wholly unrelated to Turbines’ kit or installation, Frost Brown Todd said.

“Aviation cases are always challenging — they involve complex and sophisticated machines in a heavily regulated industry where mistakes can have catastrophic consequences,” Rose said in the statement. “My job is to educate the jury, and the court, so that they can focus on the facts, put aside the mystery and any potential fears of flight, and return a verdict based on science and the evidence, not emotion. In this case, the jury followed the science and evidence, concluding that Turbines had done nothing to contribute to the accident.”

Family-owned Turbines’ owner and President Peg Mills praised Rose’s representation.

“Bryan’s knowledge of the facts and his presentation to the jury were exceptional,” she said. “His personal commitment to understanding our business and its products and services is what sets him apart in my mind.”

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