Bill Simon's Plane Parachuting on Pickup Prompts Complaint

Bill Simon's Plane Parachuting on Pickup Prompts Complaint
Bill Simon

Who knew that an airplane parachuting onto a pickup truck in Fayetteville traffic could cause such a fuss?

You may recall that Bill Simon’s single-engine plane floated down onto MLK Jr. Boulevard on Nov. 3, 2015, landing on a pickup containing a woman and two young children. Simon, of course, is the former CEO of Walmart U.S., who was flying to Waco, Texas, when his plane lost power and he was forced to deploy the safety parachute located in the plane’s fuselage.

Shakemia Harris, the woman driving the pickup truck, recently refiled a civil lawsuit through attorneys Cephus Richard III of Dallas and S.L. Smith of The Firm in Little Rock. Harris said she, her daughter and another child suffered injuries in the accident.

Harris sued Simon, Trey Willis and Willis Aviation in Bentonville and engine manufacturer Continental Motors of Mobile, Alabama, in 2016. That suit worked its way through the labyrinth of motions, counter-filings and depositions until Harris’ attorneys withdrew the complaint in July 2018.

Harris is now suing Simon and Willis for negligence and Continental Motors for product liability. Harris’ suit alleges that she and the children suffered injuries and continuing pain and suffering; the suit alleged Harris also has post-traumatic stress and other damages.

The suit is asking for damages from Simon and Willis and punitive damages from Continental Motors. The Federal Transportation Safety Board determined that the accident was caused, in part, because of a failure of the oil cooler cross-fitting, which caused a mid-flight leak and engine shutdown.

Simon’s attorney, Donald Bacon of Little Rock, said he had been expecting the lawsuit, which was filed Wednesday, but he had not seen it when Whispers called. Willis did not return a message.

Last year, a New Jersey insurance company sued Continental Motors and airplane manufacturer Cirrus Design Corp. of Duluth, Wisconsin, to recover the $600,000 it had paid Simon for the plane, which was a total loss.