Godfrey v. Precision Automotive


07/16/07 – 07/26/07

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A defective carburetor allegedly caused the crash of a Cessna 150, severely injuring both occupants.

A pilot and a student pilot were conducting touch-and-go landings at night when the engine lost power on takeoff. According to the plaintiff, both the engine manufacturer (Teledyne Continental, O-200 engine) and the carburetor manufacturer (Precision Automotive) knew for 40 years that the updraft carburetor ran too rich, which resulted in stuck engine valves, and that the carburetor was failing constantly. The plaintiffs' carburetor was only four months old when it failed.

The plaintiff alleged that many safer designs were available, and even though Precision had created a safer model years earlier, it nonetheless sold the less-safe model from old stock.

According to the defense, the Precision carburetor worked perfectly when it was installed and when it crashed. The defense said that the plane crashed because the plane owner (flight school) improperly maintained the plane and its engine. The proper oil changes were not done right, the proper engine baffles were not used. As a result, the defense said, the engine ran hot, which resulted in carbon deposits on the engine valves, which caused the engine power loss. Further, pilot error was partially responsible for the crash because the pilots allegedly did not retract the flaps before attempting to take-off from the touch-and-go.

The jury found in favor of the plaintiff on theories of products liability, negligence, and misrepresentation based on a defective carburetor, and allocated 70% to Precision and 30% fault to Teledyne. The jury found that neither the plaintiffs nor the flight school or its maintenance company were negligent.

The jury awarded compensatory damages of $21,048,319 to one plaintiff, and $32,204,313 to the other plaintiff. In addition, the jury awarded punitive damages of $1,500,000 against Precision. The total damage award was $54,752,632.


Fault: Precision-70%, Teledyne-30%
Mark Godfrey
Medical: 51,000-Past, 19,057.75-Future
Earnings: 0-Past, 978,261.61-Future
Non-Economic: 10,000,000-Past, 10,000,000-Future
Nicholas Grace
Medical Expenses: 200,480.90-Past, 678,040.22-Future
Earnings: 70,326.73-Past, 1,255,465.08-Future
Non-Economic: 15,000,000-Past, 15,000,000-Future
Punitive Damages: 1,500,000-Precision

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