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Ch. 4 – Basic Principles of Liability

1)What is a tort?

  1. What is negligence?
  2. What are the four elements a plaintiff must prove in order to win a lawsuit for negligence?
  3. Under what circumstances is a business legally liable for the consequences of the negligence of its employees?
  4. You are involved in an aircraft accident that causes injuries to other people or damage to their property. The NTSB finds that the probable cause of the accident was pilot error on your part. Will the NTSB’s finding of probable cause be admissible as evidence in a civil trial against you for negligence to prove the proximate (legal) cause of the accident? Will other evidence from the NTSB’s investigation and report be admissible in evidence in that civil trial? Explain.
  5. A general aviation manufacturer delivers a new eight-seat twin-engine FAA-certified aircraft to a buyer today. If there is a defect in the airplane when it is delivered, is the manufacturer potentially liable for injuries that may eventually be cause by that defect, no matter when the resulting harm occurs? Explain.
  6. The Pentagon is in the market for a new light armed reconnaissance helicopter. Weight is a major consideration in the design because they want to be able to transport six of these helicopters at one time in a C-17 transport. Standard aeronautical engineering practice is to fabricate military aircraft fuel lines from steel, to improve occupant survivability in the event of a fire resulting from battle damage or accident. (Steel fuel lines are sufficiently heat resistant to allow the aircraft’s occupants time to escape before the lines melt, feeding the fire and possibly causing an explosion.) Because of the weight considerations, the Pentagon has specified the use of aluminum fuel lines (which are much less heat resistant) in the new helicopter. If a manufacturer builds these helicopters in accordance with these military specifications and one crashes, incinerating its occupants because the aluminum fuel lines did not allow them time to escape from the aircraft, is the manufacturer potentially liable for a defective product? Are there any steps the manufacturer could take to avoid such liability? Explain.
  7. In the process of repairing wing damage to an airplane, a repair station’s employees inadvertently reversed the aileron cables to that wing and failed to catch their error upon completion of the work. When the owner picks up the airplane, he also failed to detect the discrepancy during his preflight inspection, with the result that moments after liftoff he found he had no control over the aircraft in the roll axis and crashed, destroying the aircraft and seriously injuring himself. He sues the repair station for negligence. The jury finds that the proximate cause of the accident was 60% the fault of the repair station and 40% the fault of the owner/pilot and that the pilot’s damages (including loss of the aircraft) amount to $1,000,000. How much must repair station pay the owner/pilot?

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