On October 11, 2006, New York Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle was flying over Manhattan with his flight instructor, with plans to see the sights of New York from the air before heading toward the West Coast. But just north of the Queensboro Bridge, the plan began to spin out of control. It eventually crashed into a high-rise condominium building on the Upper East Side and plummeted to the ground in flames. Lidle, 34, and his 26-year-old flight instructor were killed on impact.
Earlier this year, the widows of both men filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Cirrus Design Corp., the company that manufactured the personal airplane involved in the fatal crash. In their suit, the widows alleged that design flaws in the Cirrus SR-20 were responsible for the events leading up to the deaths of their husbands.
In court, the widows’ attorney described Lidle and his instructor as experienced pilots, and described the last few minutes of their lives. “They’re fighting the controls and they see the building come at them,” he said. “The crew did everything they could do to control this airplane. It didn’t work.”
The attorney for Cirrus blamed the pilots for the crash, citing a 2007 review from the National Transportation Safety Board which ruled that pilot error was responsible for the deadly accident. Last month, the New York jury agreed, ruling that Cirrus was not liable for the accident or the fatalities.
After the verdict was read, the widows’ attorney stated that he expected the verdict after the judge refused to allow testimony that Cirrus changed several of its manufacturing processes, as well as the testimony of a flight instructor who barely avoided a similar crash less than a year earlier. The widows have stated that they plan to appeal.
Source: Bloomberg, “Cirrus Cleared by Jury in Yankees Player’s Fatal Plane Crash,” Chris Dolemtsch, 24 May 2011