Father crashes helicopter, then sues helicopter's manufacturer

By Michelle Massey, East Texas Bureau | May 21, 2008

A Robinson Helicopter R44 Raven I

MARSHALL – While flying a Robinson Helicopter R 44 Raven I to a private residence on Cedar Creek Lake, Jay Scott Roden lost control and crashed the helicopter. Roden's wife and child were injured in the accident.

The Roden family filed suit against the helicopter's manufacturer, Robinson Helicopter Inc., on May 20 in the Marshall Division of the Eastern District of Texas.

According to the lawsuit, the helicopter is equipped with an automatic carburetor heat control to prevent carburetor icing and the associated loss of power. Roden states that he engaged the carburetor heater at all necessary times, but the carburetor developed icing causing the engine to lose power and ultimately, resulted in the crash.

The plaintiffs argue Robinson Helicopter Inc. is negligent for the "unreasonably and dangerously" defective helicopter, the carburetor's defective design, lack of adequate instructions or warnings on the carburetor's maintenance, use and limitations, and failure to warn of the associated danger if the carburetor failed.

The family is seeking damages for medical care, physical impairment and disfigurement, loss of earning capacity, physical pain and mental anguish.

Dallas attorney Andrew L. Payne of the Payne Mitchell Law Group LLP is representing the Rodens.

In business since 1973, Torrence, Calif.-based Robinson Helicopter has around 1,200 and produces more helicopters annually than all of the other North American manufacturers combined with sales of $200 million annually, according to the company Web site. In addition to private use, the R44 helicopter is used for news broadcasting and for police helicopters.

The company has not yet responded to the suit.

U.S. District Judge T. John Ward is assigned to the litigation.

Case No: 2:08cv00126

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