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New York Court Discusses Negligence in a Case Arising Out of a Plane Crash

Plane crashes are rare, but when they occur, they often cause catastrophic injuries. While many plane collisions are caused by defective design or maintenance of the planes themselves, they can also be caused by other factors, like the negligent operation of the plane or the performance of air traffic control services. Proving liability in plane crash cases is often a complicated endeavor, as demonstrated recently in a ruling issued in a New York case. If you lost a loved one in a catastrophic accident, it is in your best interest to confer with a Syracuse personal injury lawyer skilled at handling cases arising out of devastating losses.

The Procedural History of the Case

It is reported that the defendant provided air traffic control services to an airport in Afghanistan. Other parties were primarily responsible for operations during the day, while the defendant performed services during the night. The defendant was not responsible for training anyone. The air traffic control tower in the airport lacked the equipment that was needed to alert the controller of a plane’s proximity to terrain.

Allegedly, in October 2010, a chartered civilian cargo plane left the airport. Shortly after it took off, it contracted air traffic control, which at that time was operated by the defendant, to obtain coordinates. Tragically, they subsequently crashed into mountain terrain, and the eight people aboard died. The estates of the people who passed away filed a lawsuit against the defendant, alleging its negligence caused the crash. The defendant moved for summary judgment, and the court granted its motion, after which the plaintiffs appealed.

Proving Negligence in a Case Arising Out of a Plane Crash

On appeal, the court analyzed, among other things, whether the plaintiffs could establish the defendant owed them a duty, and if so, whether it breached the duty. The court explained that neither federal nor state courts sitting in New York had addressed the issue of what duties air traffic controllers owe to pilots. Other courts, though, had ruled that both pilots and air traffic controllers shared the duty of keeping a plane safe, and each was responsible for the safety of the passengers and the safe conduct of the plane.

Further, these courts noted that while the pilot controls the plane and is therefore directly responsible for its operation, air traffic controllers provide vital information, and if they perform their duties negligently, it could lead to a crash. In the subject case, despite the fact that the plane in question was operating under visual flight rules, the court was not persuaded by the defendant’s assertion that it owed no duty to the plaintiffs and could not be held liable for negligence. Thus, it reversed the trial court ruling.

Meet with a  Trusted Syracuse Lawyer

Plane crashes and other cataclysmic accidents typically lead to irreparable harm, and in many instances, they are caused by the negligence of multiple parties. If you suffered serious injuries or lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence, it is smart to meet with an attorney to discuss your options. The Syracuse attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers can advise you of your potential claims and assist you in seeking justice. You can contact us through our online form or by calling us at 833-247-8427 to set up a meeting.



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