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Marisela Torres Smith, As v. Cessna Aircraft

September 19, 2011

MARISELA TORRES SMITH, AS ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ESTATE OF ALEXANDER JOSE NUNEZ GONZALEZ,, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CESSNA AIRCRAFT COMPANY, DEFENDANT.



ORDER

This matter comes before the Court without a hearing on the Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 56) filed by the Defendant, Cessna Aircraft Company ("Cessna"), the response (Doc. 71) filed by the Plaintiff, Marisela Torres Smith, and the reply (Doc. 100) filed by Cessna.

The Plaintiff is the administrator of the estate of Alexander Jose Nunez Gonzalez, who was killed in the crash of a Cessna Citation III on February 18, 2008. The Plaintiff contends that the crash was caused in part by the plane's Actuator Control Unit ("ACU"). More particularly, the ACU includes a monitor intended to detect wear in another component, known as the "no-back brake," which was part of the plane's Horizontal Stabilizer Trim Assembly. The Plaintiff asserts that the monitor in the ACU failed to detect wear in the no-back brake, which eventually failed, causing the nose of the aircraft to pitch down, resulting in a crash.

Cessna seeks summary judgment based upon the eighteen-year statute of repose contained in the General Aviation Revitalization Act ("GARA")*fn1 . Subject to certain exceptions not applicable here, GARA provides that no civil action for damages for death or injury to persons or damage to property arising out of an accident involving a general aviation aircraft may be brought against the manufacturer of the aircraft or the manufacturer of any new component, system, subassembly, or other part of the aircraft in its capacity as manufacturer if the accident occurred --

(1) after the applicable limitation period beginning on --

(A) the date of delivery of the aircraft to its first purchaser or lessee, if delivered directly from the manufacturer.

GARA § 2(a).

It is undisputed that the Citation III at issue in this case was a "general aviation aircraft" for purposes of GARA, and that Cessna manufactured it and delivered it to its first owner in November 1987 -- more than twenty years prior to the crash. GARA's ...


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