Summary Judgment in Favor of Agusta in Negligence and Breach of Contract Case

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania granted motions for summary judgment filed by Agusta and the Federal Aviation Administration. This decision is in reference to Turturro, et al. v. United States of America and Agusta Aerospace Corporation, 43 F.Supp.3d 434 (E.D.Pa. 2014), aff’d, 629 Fed. Appx. 313 (3d Cir. 2015), cert denied, 136 S.Ct. 2487 (2016). John M. Socolow, a partner at Fitzpatrick & Hunt, Pagano, Aubert, LLP, represented Agusta.

Two individuals were killed in an accident involving a Grumman AA-1C aircraft at Northeast Philadelphia Airport. The Plaintiffs contended the crash was the result of the pilots of the Grumman being so “startled” by the presence of an Agusta AW139 helicopter in the airspace (the helicopter was half a mile away from the Grumman at the time of the crash) that they involuntarily yanked back on the controls, causing the Grumman to stall and then crash.

The Plaintiffs alleged negligence and breach of contract claims against Agusta Aerospace Corporation (“Agusta”), as well as negligence claims against the FAA.

The Court found no breach of duty by the pilots of the Agusta helicopter and also found the Plaintiffs’ “startle response” theory was based on sheer speculation and could not be proven. The Third Circuit affirmed and subsequently denied the Plaintiffs’ motion for rehearing. One of the Plaintiffs then filed a petition for writ of certiorari, which the U. S. Supreme Court denied on June 20, 2016.
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