United Technologies, Textron Lose Bid to End Crash Suit

United Technologies Corp. and Textron Inc. lost a bid to dismiss a wrongful-death lawsuit when a federal judge ruled that Pennsylvania wasn’t an unreasonable location to try a U.K. helicopter-crash case.

The accident happened Sept. 22, 2009, north of Liverpool, when a helicopter made by United Technologies’ Schweizer unit and powered by a Textron-Lycoming engine experienced an alleged equipment failure and fell to the ground, killing flight instructor Steven Lewis and student pilot Philip Gray, according to court papers.

Schweizer and Lycoming are both located in Pennsylvania, the wreckage has been shipped to Delaware, and producing technical witnesses and documents in the U.K. “would be much more costly and less convenient than producing them in Philadelphia,” U.S. District Judge Harvey Bartle wrote in a 21-page ruling yesterday.

The lawsuit, citing product liability and negligence, was filed in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas in September 2011 before being transferred to federal court. Representatives of the Lewis and Gray estates are seeking a jury trial and unspecified damages.

Lewis, 38, and Gray, 46, were flying on a clear, dry day when the engine of the Schweizer 269C-1 lost power, according to an article about the case published by the Liverpool Daily Post on April 13, 2011.

Daniel Rose, a plaintiffs’ lawyer, said Bartle’s opinion was “well reasoned and objective,” and he looks forward to “getting to the merits” of the case.

Catherine Slavin, representing Providence, Rhode Island-based Textron, and James Stroud, representing Hartford, Connecticut-based United Technologies, didn’t immediately return e-mail messages seeking comment on the ruling.

The case is Lewis v. Lycoming, 11-cv-6475, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia).

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