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Ohio Court of Appeals Reverses Trial Court’s Sanction Order in Airplane Product Liability Case

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Mary Jane Trapp, of counsel to Thrasher, Dinsmore & Dolan handled the successful appeal for the families of three persons killed in a small airplane crash in southern Ohio of a ruling excluding their expert’s testimony that the crash was caused by power loss from a defectively designed muffler as a sanction for spoliation (destruction or alteration) of evidence.

The muffler manufacturer claimed that a small opening made in the muffler canister during an earlier inspection in order to better view the internal components of the muffler damaged by the crash, which could have been resealed constituted destruction of evidence serious enough to warrant sanctions that effectively amounted to a dismissal of the lawsuit.

The Second District Court of Appeals unanimously found that the trial court erred in its ruling because the muffler manufacturer was not prejudiced by the cutting of the muffler and the sanction was unreasonable because it was not related to the degree of prejudice, if any, suffered by the muffler manufacturer.

The court’s opinion may be found at http://www.supremecourt.ohio.gov/rod/docs/pdf/2/2014/2014-ohio-1104.pdf