A recent Pennsylvania lawsuit that threatened to hold flight schools liable for their training failures was dismissed by the state’s superior court. The suit was brought about from a 2018 fatal accident that the plaintiffs contended was caused by the failure of the flight school and its CFIs to adequately train the pilot on the proper use of the Cirrus Aircraft Parachute System (CAPS). Evidence showed that the pilot, James Durkin, failed to activate CAPS with the resulting crash on April 18, 2018, taking the lives of the pilot and his passenger, Stephen Grady.
Many of those involved in training, including national flight schools and independent CFIs, were on edge and waiting for a ruling on this court case. The implications that a flight school or CFI could be held liable for what could be termed “Educational Malpractice” sent ripples throughout the industry.
While this ruling, which ultimately was upheld by the Pennsylvania Superior Court in March, adopted the lower court’s opinion, dismissing the case stating, “Pennsylvania courts have not permitted cases of negligence resulting from alleged educational malpractice to persist.”
Patricia Grady, the husband of the passenger on the ill-fated flight, has filed a petition that would allow an appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. It is expected to take a couple of months for the Supreme Court to make their ruling on this petition for appeal.
In the meantime, there has been a tempered collective sigh of relief for those in the pilot training business and CFIs across the country. While this may not stop similar lawsuits against flight schools and their employees, at least for now, those in the flight training business can take comfort in the decisions that have been handed down so far by the courts and legal system.