NEW YORK (AP) — New York Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle and a flight instructor did everything they could to save their lives after the small plane they were piloting malfunctioned, causing them to crash into a Manhattan building, a lawyer for the men's families told a jury Wednesday at the start of a civil trial.
California attorney Todd Macaluso said he will prove that Lidle and his instructor were killed because Cirrus Design Corp., of Duluth, Minn., failed to properly design the aircraft, allowing a deficient flight control system to remain in the aircraft even though there was a better and safer alternative available at a reasonable cost.
A federal safety panel concluded that the crash occurred because Lidle and his instructor misjudged a turn.
Lidle's wife, Melanie, and the family of Lidle's instructor, Tyler Stanger, filed a $50 million lawsuit, blaming Cirrus for the crash.
The company was due to deliver its opening statement later Wednesday. The firm has said the plane is the safest of its kind.
Lidle was 34 when he died after the Cirrus SR-20 struck an apartment building in October 2006, just days after he had finished the baseball season. He and Stanger departed from a New Jersey airport for a sightseeing trip past the Statue of Liberty and north up the East River.
The National Transportation Safety Board concluded that the two men misjudged a U-turn they were required to make and didn't realize their mistake until it was too late.
Macaluso said he will show the jury plenty of evidence to convince jurors that the plane was hopelessly out of control.
He said an employee of a power plant in Queens on the east side of the river will testify that the plane veered so close to the plant that he thought there was a terrorist attack under way.
He said Lidle and Stanger yanked so hard on the steering mechanism that it was bent.
"They did everything that a prudent pilot would do. There is not pilot error. There is no negligence," Macaluso said.