In 2009, a Pays Air Services’ airplane crashed in Portugal while engaged in firefighting. The plane, a total loss, was worth in excess of $1.6 million. Pays Air Services and Lloyd’s of London hired KTKL to recover the loss from the engine manufacturer, Pratt & Whitney Canada, and the maintenance provider, Covington Aircraft Engines, Inc.
KTKL successfully defend their clients against a motion to dismiss based on spoliation. Covington Aircraft Engines asked the court to dismiss KTKL’s clients’ lawsuit against Covington or, in the alternative, to exclude certain evidence because the engine involved in the crash had been taken apart, cleaned, and inspected, allegedly precluding Covington from investigating the crash. KTKL responded that the three elements necessary for spoliation sanctions under Barnett v. Simmons, 197 P.3d 12 (Okla. 2008), had not been met. First, Covington had introduced no evidence that KTKL’s clients knew or should have known that they needed to maintain the entire engine when the part that broke was preserved. Second, Covington had introduced no evidence that the altered engine parts prejudiced Covington’s ability to defend itself, especially in light of the investigations already conducted into the crash. Finally, there was no evidence that KTKL’s clients had willfully or intentionally altered the engine parts. The court agreed and denied all relief requested by Covington. A copy of KTKL’s brief on the issue can be found here. If you have questions about an aviation-related matter, please contact Mike Kuckelman or Kathryn Lewis.