Archive for the ‘Airplane’ Category

All Wet – Airport Not Liable for Failed “Soft-Field Take Off” (NY)

August 5, 2015

Bouck v. Skaneateles Aerodrome, LLC (New York)

This matter involved an unsuccessful attempt by a private plane to take off from a grass-surfaced runway at the defendant’s airport.  Plaintiff suffered personal injury when his plane encountered a soft and wet area on the runway, causing the plane to dig in and tip over.  Plaintiff was a flight instructor with 40 years of experience and he had utilized the defendant’s runway for more than 100 take offs and landings.  Although it had not rained on the day of the incident, it had rained for several days prior.  Before attempting to take off, plaintiff inspected the runway because he was concerned that the surface was soft and wet.  The trial court denied the defendant’s motion for summary judgment, and the defendant appealed.

On appeal, the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court reversed the decision.  The Court indicated that it agreed with defendant “that its airport is a designated venue for the recreational activity of private aviation and that plaintiff’s use thereof was in furtherance of his pursuit of that activity.”  The Court noted that “plaintiff’s recreational use of defendant’s airport was a qualifying activity under the doctrine of primary assumption of the risk” and that the “primary assumption of the risk doctrine also encompasses risks involving less than optimal conditions.”  It was not necessary for the plaintiff to have foreseen the exact manner in which his injury occurred, so long as he was aware of the potential for injury or the mechanism from which injury resulted.