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Dennis Goebel Wins Four-Week Federal Jury Trial In Airplane Crash Case

Randall Torno and his wife filed a products liability action in the Federal Court in Detroit alleging that he sustained an L1 burst fracture and paraplegia as a result of an experimental aircraft crash in which Mr. Torno claimed that an RE Phelon engine ignition component failed causing his aircraft to lose power and crash in Monroe County, Michigan in June 2001.  Mr. Torno was an engineer who built an experimental aircraft which utilized a 50 horsepower two-cycle engine.  He claimed that an RE Phelon trigger coil was used in the ignition system, that the coil failed, causing the engine to overheat, burn a hole in one of the pistons, that there was a loss of power and that the aircraft crashed resulting in his permanent injuries.  The case was defended on the basis that the trigger coil did not fail, but that Mr. Torno’s alterations to the engine and its components resulted in a lean fuel mixture causing the engine to overheat and burn a hole in one piston.  As a result of the crash, Mr. Torno sustained an L1 burst fracture of his vertebrae.  He sustained a permanent loss of use of his lower extremities as well as affecting internal organs effected by the paraplegia.  In addition, Mr. Torno was an engineer who earned $75,000 a year and claimed reduction and earning capacity, future attendance services and other economic damages.  After a four week trial the jury returned a verdict that RE Phelon Company was not negligent, i.e., no cause for action.