As much as has been written, as many accidents of this type we all read about, as much as your instructor tells you don't do it the blame falls completely on the pilot in this case and the court was correct in it's findings. I feel for the family but the guy F Upped big time and it is no one else's fault but his own.
Speaking as a Canadian, it's unbelievable that this case even made it in front of a court, let alone winning a settlement in the lower court.
Marginal VFR / Instrument conditions as a VFR pilot? Is "178 seconds to live" no longer mandatory reading for PPL students in the US? How could a court even consider that this was anything other than a pilot failing to exercise reasonable judgement?
Truly unbelievable. This was the sort of nonsense that killed the piston single business back in the 70s...
This lawsuit borders on frivolous. Suing the manufacturer because the VFR pilot didn't know how to use the GPS in IMC. Absolutely insane. It sucks that it happened but the pilot did choose to continue the flight when he should have got the hell out of there.
I'm surprised that the supreme courts vote was only 4 to 2 in favor of Cirrus. I would love to hear from the other 2 judges who who felt that Cirrus was responsible for these fools taking off in marginal VFR weather. Should Ford be responsible if some drunken driver kills himself in one of their cars? Too bad these cases weren't dealth with properly in the 70's before greedy lawyers and their clients destroyed private aviation.
I hope Cirrus is now planning a reverse law-suit - to sue both the family and the lawyers for reimbursement of their defense costs! That will tell the families of future idiots that there is no free ride when their relative does something REALLY dumb! And hopefully, it will keep the scumbag lawyers from even trying!! Otherwise, there is no reason for the scumbag lawyers to not roll the dice and give it a try.
A pilot flying in conditions, he's not qualified to fly in. Clashes the plane, and it's the manufactured's fault. No its not the manufacturer's fault, but the fault lies with an incompetent pilot. You mess up in the skies, you better be able to get out of it, or die.
Please refer to FAA FAR 91.3:
"91.3 Responsibility and authority of the pilot in command.
(a) The pilot in command of an aircraft is directly responsible for, and is the final authority as to, the operation of that aircraft"
AND FAA FAR 91.103:
"91.103 Preflight action.
Each pilot in command shall, before beginning a flight, become familiar with all available information concerning that flight. This information must include—
(a) For a flight under IFR or a flight not in the vicinity of an airport, weather reports and forecasts, fuel requirements, alternatives available if the planned flight cannot be completed, and any known traffic delays of which the pilot in command has been advised by ATC;
(b) For any flight, runway lengths at airports of intended use, and the following takeoff and landing distance information"
As an aviation lawyer and a Cirrus owner, I too am flabbergasted at the theory of liability propounded by the plaintiffs in this case, a case I have followed closely. I agree with the decision. An unfortunate loss of two lives caused by poor judgment and not by a breach of any duty owed to the pilot by Cirrus. I also own a J-3 Cub which needs to be hand propped to start the engine. This theory suggests that if I sever my arm in the process, Piper is responsible for not "training" me in the proper engine starting technique to be used? Hogwash.
@Stack151 - The courts were right in this decision to side with Cirrus but we cannot allow corporations to have complete immunity from lawsuits. Corporations will always do what's best for their bottom line and if they have total impunity, they will likely allow standards to suffer.
If you were flying in a plane with subpar standards and a wing fell off as a result, you'd want your family to be able to seek damages for their neglect.
I agree that greedy lawyers have taken this too far and that needs to be reined but We the People need to have the right to seek justice when warranted.
Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.
...and let's stop bashing "Dad" for his pilot error. The guy paid with his and another life. That's punishment enough for a bad flight decision. We might not make his mistake but most of us have done something dumb in the cockpit before that we feel lucky to have lived through.