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CHAMPLAIN ENTERPRISES v. UNITED STATES

March 5, 1997

CHAMPLAIN ENTERPRISES, INC., d/b/a COMMUTAIR, Plaintiff, against UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and BEECH AIRCRAFT COMPANY, Defendants.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: MCAVOY

 I. BACKGROUND

 This dispute arises from the crash of CommutAir Flight 4821. The facts of this case are more fully set forth in this Court's previous Memorandum-Decision and Order dated November 16, 1996. See Champlain Enterprises v. Beech Aircraft, 945 F. Supp. 468 (N.D.N.Y. 1996). Briefly, on January 3, 1992, Flight 4821 was on approach to Adirondack Airport in Saranac Lake, New York. It struck a mountain approximately 4.3 miles short of the runway and was destroyed. Two persons died and two persons survived the crash.

 Plaintiff, a New York corporation, is the owner/operator of the aircraft that crashed. By Order dated October 15, 1996, this Court granted co-defendant United States' Motion for Summary Judgment and dismissed all claims against the United States in this action. See Champlain Enterprises v. Beech Aircraft, 946 F. Supp. 196, 1996 WL 650700 (N.D.N.Y. 1996). In addition, by Order dated November 16, 1996, this Court dismissed Plaintiff's negligence cause of action, leaving only Plaintiff's Third Cause of Action sounding in strict liability. See Champlain, 945 F. Supp. at 468.

 Currently pending are defendant Beech Aircraft's Motions In Limine seeking: (1) judgment as a matter of law on the basis that Kansas statutory law provides an affirmative defense for products that are manufactured pursuant to governmental regulations; (2) judgment as a matter of law because there is no evidence that precipitation static ("P-static") interference played a role in this crash; (3) preclusion of expert testimony sought to be introduced by Plaintiff on the issue of P-static interference; (4) preclusion of any evidence concerning subsequent remedial measures, including any National Transportation Safety Board recommendations and subsequent changes to Beech Aircraft's maintenance manuals; and (5) judgment as a matter of law because the contract between the parties limits the remedies available to Plaintiff.

 II. DISCUSSION

 A. Judgment as a Matter of Law

 Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 50(a) provides that a party may make a motion for judgment as a matter of law based on the evidence before the court. The Second Circuit stated the standard for granting a judgment as a matter of law in Mattivi v. South African Marine Corp., "Huguenot", 618 F.2d 163 (2d Cir. 1980). In Mattivi, the court stated that

 
the trial court cannot assess the weight of conflicting evidence, pass on the credibility of the witnesses, or substitute its judgment for that of the jury. Rather, after viewing the evidence in a light most favorable to the non-moving party (giving the non-movant the benefit of all reasonable inferences), the trial court should grant a [judgment as a matter of law] only when . . . there is such an overwhelming amount of evidence in favor of the movant that reasonable and fair minded men could not arrive at a verdict against him.

 618 F.2d at 167-68; see also Samuels v. Air Transport Local 504, 992 F.2d 12, 14 (2d Cir. 1993); Mallis v. Bankers Trust Co., 717 F.2d 683, 688-89 (2d Cir. 1983). *fn1" Rule 50 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure governs the procedure for granting judgment as a matter of law by motion made before the jury retires pursuant to Rule 50(a), or motion after the jury has spoken pursuant to Rule 50(b). Fed. R. Civ. P. 50; see also Samuels, 992 F.2d at 14.

 With this standard in mind, the Court will address Defendant's requests seriatim.

 B. Products Manufactured Pursuant to Governmental Regulations

 The Kansas Products Liability Act states, in relevant part:

 
When the injury causing aspect of the product was, at the time of manufacture, in compliance with legislative regulatory standards or administrative regulatory safety standards relating to design or performance, the product shall be deemed not defective by reason of design or performance, . . . unless the claimant proves by a preponderance of the evidence that a reasonable prudent product seller could and would have taken additional precautions.

 K.S.A. § 60-3304(a) (emphasis added).

 Thus, in order to be entitled to this statutory defense, Beech must establish that the Beech 1900C aircraft was, at the time of manufacture, in compliance with legislative regulatory standards or administrative regulatory safety standards relating to design or performance. However, even if Beech establishes this compliance, Champlain can still obviate this defense if it proves, by a preponderance of the ...


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