What Your Signature Could Cost

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Lawyers leading a class-action lawsuit against Lycoming are warning their clients that signing a legal release relieving the engine maker of any liability in the ongoing crankshaft crisis may leave them without insurance coverage. Thus far, Lycoming is silent on the issue. Recall that Lycoming offered generous reimbursement for travel and aircraft leasing to owners affected by the recent crankshaft recall that has grounded nearly 2,000 aircraft. But in exchange for the best deal Lycoming will offer, owners have to sign a release agreeing not sue for past or future damages. According to Charles Ames, of the Fred Misko law firm in Dallas, language in the agreement says owners must "... release, discharge and acquit Lycoming ... of and from any and all claims, actions, demands, suits, rights, causes of action, damages, costs, expenses, interest, compensation, judgments, dues, debts, and/or accounts.... known or unknown, which ... ever had, now have or hereafter can, shall or may have arising out of or in any way connected with [the crankshaft-related Service Bulletins.]"

In a letter to clients Misko represents in class actions against Lycoming, attorney Ames said that many aircraft hull and liability policies have subrogation and waiver-of-rights clauses that terminate insurance coverage when the policyholder releases the rights of the insurance company to recover claims resulting from the fault of others ... namely Lycoming. In the letter, Ames said the firm wasn't giving legal advice on the matter, merely reminding clients to check with their insurance companies before executing the agreement.

Repeated calls to Lycoming for comment were not returned.