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Tue, May 15, 2012

AZ Court Rejects Request For Dismissal Of Jabiru Aircraft Lawsuit

Says Australian Company Can Be Sued In The State Of Arizona

An Arizona court said it will allow a lawsuit against Australian kitplane manufacturer Jabiru Aircraft Company to go forward despite the fact that it's headquartered on the other side of the planet.

The Arizona state Court of Appeals said that because Jabiru clearly understood that its kits were being sold in the U.S. through a dealer and distribution network, the lawsuit could go forward in Arizona. The company is being used over an accident in 2008 in which the pilot was fatally injured.

The Arizona Daily sun reports that the family of pilot Gerald Van Heeswyk of Marana, AZ, said he had completed his kit, which was sold by Jabiru USA Sport Aircraft in Tennessee, in 2007. It was first flown by a a test pilot hired by Van Heeswyk after it had passed its inspections, and then for several hours by the owner/builder. But during a flight on June 1st 2008, the propeller came off the airplane and it went down, resulting in the fatal injury.

Jabiru has no employees in Arizona, and a trial judge initially ruled that the state had no jurisdiction in the case. Jabiru's lawyers argued that the company's liability ended when the distribute received the engine in Tennessee, and that it had no way to know that it would wind up in Arizona. But the appeals court pointed out that the company had sold 61 products in Arizona the year Van Heeswyk bought his kit, including five engines, and that it was part of a "stream of products" that were specifically exported to final destinations in Arizona. Sales in the state amounted to 2 percent of the company's overall sales in that year.

In the ruling written by judge Garye Vasquez for the panel that it could not ignore the fact that the Australian company receives the "bulk of the economic benefit from its sales in 'distant forums' such as Arizona."

FMI: http://azcourts.gov/AZCourts/CourtofAppeals.aspx

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