Yankee Lidle’s Plane Crashed Because of Control Defect, Lawyer Tells Jury

New York Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle’s plane slammed into an Upper East Side building in October 2006 because the flight-control system was defective, a lawyer told a jury in Manhattan today.

Lidle and his flight instructor, Tyler Stanger, were killed when their plane crashed into an apartment building on East 72nd Street on Oct. 11, 2006. Lidle was 34 and Stanger was 26. Their widows filed a wrongful death suit against Duluth, Minnesota- based Cirrus Design Corp., the manufacturer of Lidle’s single- engine SR20 plane, in February 2007.

The suit claims that the flight-control system failed because of a design defect that caused Lidle and Stanger to lose control of the plane. Cirrus contends that the pilots started a turn too close to the eastern shore of the island of Manhattan at too low an angle, leaving them too little room to finish the maneuver.

“There is no pilot error,” Todd E. Macaluso, a lawyer representing the estates of Lidle and Stanger, told the jury in opening statements in federal court in Manhattan. “There is no negligence. If you can’t control the airplane, you can’t be at fault. This airplane was out of control.”

The accident was a “terrible tragedy” and Cirrus is “genuinely sorry” for the loss of the two men, Patrick E. Bradley, an attorney representing the company, said in opening statements before U.S. District Judge Barbara Jones.

“While acknowledging that, we also have to acknowledge that it is wrong and it is unfair to blame someone for something they did not do,” Bradley said. “Cirrus did not cause these deaths, the airplane did not cause these deaths.”

The case is Lidle v. Cirrus Design Corp., 1:08-cv-01253, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

To contact the reporter on this story: Chris Dolmetsch in New York at cdolmetsch@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net.

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