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Thread: Seller's liability

  1. #1

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    Seller's liability

    Hi, I'm going to sell my Rans S-10. I bought it built, but have recovered and done a bunch of mods.(hydraulic brakes, etc..) I am not a repairman for the a/c. It has been signed off for 10 years by an A+P. I have watched the EAA webcast on selling your homebuilt and downloaded the sale agreement and waiver. I'm very nervous because if you know the a/c, then you know it's a difficult plane to fly and intended for acro. I'm just fishing for tips and making sure I didn't miss anything. Comments?

  2. #2

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    Seller's Liability

    If it were me, I'd seek counsel from an attorney familiar with aviation liability issues to make sure I am as well protected as I can possibly be.
    Bill

  3. #3

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    But remember, in this country you can sue a ham sandwich. But on the brighter side, if you have few assets no lawyer will take the case.

  4. #4

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    My opinion is the same as AlaskaBill's I think he's right about it completely.

  5. #5
    The Rans S-10 is a dual seat acrobat. Make sure your buyer has a current acrobat rating and give him transitional training. Don’t complete the sale until you’re sure he can safely fly it and have the buyer’s A&P sign off the plane.

    The only way you might protect yourself is to put all your assets into an offshore trust (such as a family remainder trust that you don’t control) in some country (New Zealand is frequently used) with secret banking laws that require that the tort be adjudicated in their court under their liability laws and stop working – prior to the sale. This is expensive and controversial.

    Then you can tell the scumbag lawyer suing you that as any lawsuit will financially destroy you, ruining your life and make it not worth living – that you will not waste any money defending it, will declare bankruptcy and will kill him and then do it.

  6. #6
    kscessnadriver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Forest Hills Cynic View Post
    The Rans S-10 is a dual seat acrobat. Make sure your buyer has a current acrobat rating and give him transitional training. Don’t complete the sale until you’re sure he can safely fly it and have the buyer’s A&P sign off the plane.

    The only way you might protect yourself is to put all your assets into an offshore trust (such as a family remainder trust that you don’t control) in some country (New Zealand is frequently used) with secret banking laws that require that the tort be adjudicated in their court under their liability laws and stop working – prior to the sale. This is expensive and controversial.

    Then you can tell the scumbag lawyer suing you that as any lawsuit will financially destroy you, ruining your life and make it not worth living – that you will not waste any money defending it, will declare bankruptcy and will kill him and then do it.
    There is no such thing as an "acrobat" rating. You can get training in it, but there is no rating for it at all.
    KSCessnaDriver
    ATP MEL, Commercial Lighter Than Air-Airship, SEL, CFI/CFII
    Private SES

  7. #7
    s10sakota's Avatar
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    I read somewhere where a guy was selling a kitplane and when he sold it be removed the rudder and the prop. Then he made three different Bill of Sales and sold it all as 'parts'. The idea was that he was selling aircraft parts only and left it to the buyer and his mechanic to assemble it and call it an airworthy airplane. I'm not a lawyer so I don't know if this tactic would hold up in court, but it seems logical. I suppose even if it does stand up in court, you're still going to spend your life savings defending yourself. I should have been a lawyer.
    Mark

    2003 RANS S-10
    2011 RANS S-6S
    2025 Vans RV-7
    1962 Piper Cherokee 160

    www.aircraftstickers.com Very cool aircraft stickers. Vans, RANS, Kitfox...more!

  8. #8
    danielfindling's Avatar
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    Liability

    I am providing this opinion for academic purposes. For legal advice, contact your lawyer.

    There are three major theories of exposure when someone is selling a homebuilt, kit Car (or almost everything). General principles of negligence, contract and product liability. Neither theories will likely result in exposure under the circumstances described in this thread.

    Negligence is composed of four sub-parts. A duty, breach, causation and damages. All four elements must be met for a recovery. A 'duty' can be defined as an obligation. For instance, while "puffing" is tolerated in a sale, "fraud" is not. This can loosely be described as a duty to be honest in the sale. The phrase: "as is where is" is often used to negate the duty. For example, actively concealing a known defect would likely breach the duty of honesty in the sale. While saying "the plane is a strong runner" when you really believe it is an "ok runner" would be puffing. In a similar vein, you have a duty to maintain the plane consistent with the FAR's. Therefore having an A & P sign off on the work would likely demonstrate compliance with the duty to maintain or shift the duty to the A & P. The breach of the duty must 'cause' an injury. However, the injury must be foreseeable. For example, consider this example: "if I was not delayed because of the (fill in the blank) the mid air collision would not have occurred" This is not a foreseeable injury, it is too remote. Alternatively, it is foreseeable that a plane using a defective spar could kill someone.

    Breach of Contract is simply not doing what was contracted for and is dependant on the language of the contract. (e.g. not fulfilling the promise, misrepresentation, not performing a service, fraud, consumer protection claims etc.)

    Products liability varies by State. The restatement of torts (sort of the model used by States) essentially provides that a seller (in the business of selling goods) is strictly liable for the sale of any goods that are sold inherently dangerous in a defective condition. In some circumstances, even if you were not the builder of the goods, you can be liable under a products liability theory. However, you are clearly not in the business of selling airplanes. Therefore, exposure is unlikely (for other reasons as well), even if the airplane is in a defective condition, inherently dangerous.

    Notwithstanding the representations I have made above, nothing can guarantee that you will not be sued. However, a lawyer typically evaluates the likelihood of recovery before filing a lawsuit.

    Ok, there are risks in life. As a pilot, you appreciate the risks of flying and minimize them, when possible, with judgment.

    I would personally sell the plane "as is where is" and pay a lawyer to draft a release of liability. This will minimize, but not eliminate your exposure.

    As an aside, to Forrest Hills Cynic was the use of the term "scumbag" in describing lawyers really necessary? You will never forget, or thank a good lawyer enough, when you need him/her.

    Daniel
    Last edited by danielfindling; 03-09-2012 at 09:13 PM.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by s10sakota View Post
    I read somewhere where a guy was selling a kitplane and when he sold it be removed the rudder and the prop. Then he made three different Bill of Sales and sold it all as 'parts'. The idea was that he was selling aircraft parts only and left it to the buyer and his mechanic to assemble it and call it an airworthy airplane. I'm not a lawyer so I don't know if this tactic would hold up in court, but it seems logical. I suppose even if it does stand up in court, you're still going to spend your life savings defending yourself. I should have been a lawyer.

    To completely eliminate liability when selling a homebuilt/kitplane, one has to cancel the registration, then remove and destroy the builder dataplate.

    The aircraft's value takes quite a hit in the process. All other shenanigans are just that. Won't fool anyone.

  10. #10

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    Excellent post, Daniel.

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