Lawsuit Against Lycoming Hits Snag

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A California court held a hearing last Monday in a class-action suit filed against Lycoming in California over an AD affecting 3,774 Lycoming 360- and 540-series engines. In the lawsuit, plaintiff Richard Bristow, a Mooney owner, maintains that Lycoming should bear all the costs of replacing the problem crankshafts, which the manufacturer previously did when similar troubles plagued its other engines. While the judge believes the class-action case has merit under California's tough consumer laws, Robert Mills -- the San Rafael, Calif., attorney who filed the suit - said a technicality is preventing the case from moving forward. Bristow's Mooney is titled under a limited liability company and as such is the owner -- and the real plaintiff -- in the court's eyes, and the rub is that the California consumer law is applicable only to consumers, not companies. Mills believes the judge will allow him to find an alternate plaintiff to proceed with the case, so he is seeking "an aircraft owner affected by this AD that lives in California, bought the aircraft in California and took title as an individual," and in addition must still own this airplane. Anyone meeting these requirements can contact him via his law firm's Web site. The AD, effective Nov. 3, requires owners to replace the crankshaft either at normal overhaul, when the crankcase is split for any reason or within 12 years of the time the crankshaft was put into service. Replacement parts will cost about $16,000 per engine, though Lycoming is offering to reduce that price to $2,000 (parts only) for three years. Mills, as well as seven other law firms, is also involved in the filing of a class-action lawsuit for affected owners in the other 49 states.