Case Conclusion Date: April 20, 2009
Practice Area: Aviation
Outcome: Defense Verdict on Summary Judgment
Description: Judge Flanagan granted summary judgment and dismissed the lawsuit filed by survivors of two passangers who died when the experimental plane they were riding in crashed while on a sightseeing flight at the Grand Canyon. Jerry Howle, a Reno forensic psychiatrist, had taken his son, Albert Glenn Howle, his fiancee and her maid of honor for a flight May 15, 2004. All four died in the crash the day before the wedding. Families of the bride-to-be, Milena Stanoycheva, and her friend, Ania Dolinska, sued Lancair, manufacturer of the plane kit, contending it was defective. I represented Lancair, along with Mitch Cobeaga. We argued that the Plaintiffs were unable to produce any evidence that the crash occurred as a result of any defect. Washoe District Judge Patrick Flanagan agreed that the expert the family hired was unable to specify any part of the plane that failed. The expert could not tie anything done by Lancair to the accident, it could have been any one of a number of things. There was nothing to show there was any mechanical problem or defect. Howle's aircraft had been built from a kit by an amateur enthusiast named Stuart Bachman, who started it in 1997 and flew it for the first time in 2000. Howle bought the plane from Bachman in 2002. The plane crashed about an hour into the flight 45 miles northwest of Grand Canyon National Park Airport on the Hualapai Reservation in Arizona.