Fayetteville Plane Crash Subject of Court Case

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Monday, Nov. 5, 2018 12:00 am   2 min read

A Cirrus SR 22T airplane, the same make and model as the one Bill Simon parachuted in a 2015 emergency landing in Fayetteville. (Alan Wilson)

Remember when a small, single-engine plane parachuted onto a pickup truck on MLK Jr. Boulevard in Fayetteville?

A New Jersey insurance company has filed a lawsuit in Washington County Circuit Court to recoup the $600,000 it paid out to the plane’s owner, former Walmart U.S. CEO Bill Simon.

Simon was flying the plane with two passengers from Bentonville to Waco, Texas, on Nov. 3, 2015, when his Cirrus SR 22T lost all engine power.

Simon attempted to make it to Drake Field in Fayetteville, but when that was obviously not going to happen, he pulled the emergency parachute installed in the plane’s fuselage. He, his passengers and the driver of the truck suffered minor injuries.

The plane was a complete loss. Simon’s insurer, then known as Torus National Insurance Co., paid the claim.

On Oct. 26, in a suit filed by attorneys Donald Bacon and Thomas Mars of Friday Eldredge & Clark in Little Rock, Starstone National Insurance Co. alleged that negligence and design and manufacturing defects caused the accident. Starstone filed the suit against airplane manufacturer Cirrus Design Corp. of Duluth, Wisconsin, and engine manufacturer Continental Motors Inc. of Mobile, Alabama.

Starstone is asking to recoup the money it paid Simon in insurance plus attorneys’ fees and any other possible damages.

The Federal Transportation Safety Board said the accident was caused, in part, because of a failure of the oil cooler cross fitting, the suit said. It caused the oil to leak from the engine, which shut down in mid-flight.

Starstone accused Cirrus and CMI of negligence, product liability for design and manufacturing flaws, failure to properly warn consumers of the danger and breach of warranty. It also accused Cirrus of breach of contract.

In the suit, Starstone said Cirrus and CMI issued bulletins warning of the oil cooler defect but did not alert consumers who had purchased the airplane equipped with the product. Simon purchased the plane in February 2014.



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