Lycoming Suit To Proceed

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A personal injury suit against Lycoming over failure of an IO-540 engine will go ahead in U.S. District Court in Beaumont, Texas, May 12. But this one doesn't have anything directly to do with the crankshaft problems that have grounded hundreds of aircraft since October. The crankshaft in this engine was made by a different subcontractor than those involved in the recall. Lawyer Charles Ames is representing a woman hurt in the crash landing of a Piper Mirage after the engine failed in flight. The plaintiff, Lauren Christine Walker, is alleging that poor manufacturing and quality control led to the failure. She lost a legal round with Lycoming on Jan. 23 when a Beaumont judge denied her application to unseal depositions made by Lycoming employees during preliminary proceedings on the case. The depositions were sealed by mutual consent to protect the company's trade secrets. Ames applied to have them unsealed in December, saying the information they contain is in the public interest. Lycoming opposed the application and declined further comment to AVweb. In his decision, Judge Richard A. Schell said opening the depositions now "would make public damaging but unproven allegations by Textron [Lycoming's parent company] employees. The purpose of the upcoming trial is to determine the truthfulness of these allegations and whether or not the aircraft engine is, in fact, defective." The judge also said that if the FAA wanted to look at the depositions as part of its investigation, he'd entertain a motion to reconsider. He also said that if, before the trial, the FAA finds the engines are "defective and unsafe," he'd entertain a similar motion from the plaintiff.