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November 2012

Cirrus Aircraft Successfully Reverses $20M Jury Verdict

United States - Minnesota

Cirrus Design Corporation defended wrongful death claims when a fatal crash involving one of its aircraft led to litigation by the families of the deceased pilot and passenger. The jury awarded the families almost $20 million based on a novel product liability theory of negligent training, and the trial court upheld the verdict. Our firm served as counsel during the trial.

Our firm was brought in as lead appellate counsel to prosecute Cirrus’s appeal. Based on our advocacy, the Minnesota Court of Appeals reversed the jury verdict, concluding that the plaintiffs’ claims asserted educational malpractice and holding that Minnesota law does not recognize that cause of action. 

On further appeal, our firm successfully defended the Court of Appeals decision and obtained a Minnesota Supreme Court decision affirming the reversal of the verdict and adopting two important new holdings: that Minnesota product liability law does not recognize a duty to train as part of the duty to warn, and that a plaintiff may not assert a tort claim where the only duty at issue arises solely from a contract.

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