Philadelphia federal court now hearing case of Va. airplane crash that claimed life of student pilot

By Nicholas Malfitano | Jul 5, 2018

PHILADELPHIA – A strict liability lawsuit connected to a fatal airplane crash that claimed the life a student pilot in Virginia will now be heard in a Pennsylvania federal court, per a recent removal.

On June 25, litigation initiated by Deborah McCall and Wanchart McCall (acting as the representative of the Estate of Ryan Lee McCall and as his father, respectively) of Spotsylvania, Va. versus Avco Corporation of Williamsport and Providence, R.I., Lycoming Engines of Williamsport and Avco Lycoming-Textron Williamsport of Montoursville was removed from the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

As defendant parties to the case are located in different states and the amount in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $75,000, exclusive of interest and costs, jurisdiction is appropriate in the federal court.

The lawsuit had originally been filed in state court on March 28, 2017 through a Writ of Summons. After a stay in the case during which all defendants besides the Avco defendants settled or were dismissed from the lawsuit, the stay was lifted and the complaint was filed on June 4 of this year.

The litigation was filed as a result of a March 29, 2015, plane crash in Orange County, Va., where a single-engine 1974 Piper PA28-140 aircraft crashed shortly after take-off from Orange County Airport and killed Ryan Lee McCall, a pilot-in-training.

According to the lawsuit, Ryan was fully qualified to pilot the accident flight, a solo, cross-country flight, which was part of the requirement for a private pilot’s license. Additionally, he and his instructor met to discuss pre-flight planning and plane inspection and winds were light and visibility unrestricted on the day of the flight, whose intended destination was Farmville Regional Airport in Farmville, Va.

After departure, Ryan’s engine allegedly “began sputtering, spitting smoke, and severely vibrating, as well as losing power.” Witnesses are said to have observed “the nose of the aircraft pitch upward, before it rolled sharply left and descended to ground contact.”

At about 9:40 a.m., Ryan’s plane crashed near Orange County Airport in Orange, Va., resulting in him sustaining fatal injuries. The airplane came to rest upright in a field located about 1,330 feet northeast of the departure end of Runway No. 8, with the wreckage oriented on a heading of about 170 degrees magnetic.

Per the litigation, a post-accident investigation showed a power loss occurred on board, large carbon deposits present in the cylinders, on the valves and spark plugs, and the carburetor was determined to be running rich, with an unacceptably high rate of flow. These alleged conditions further contributed to the engine’s inability to reach rated power and to the engine failure which ultimately took Ryan’s life.

For counts of survival, wrongful death, strict liability, negligence through design defects, breach of express and implied warranties, recklessness, outrageousness, willful and wanton conduct, fraud, misrepresentation and concealment, the plaintiff is seeking compensatory and punitive damages, jointly and severally, in excess of $50,000, plus interests, costs, attorney’s fees and such other relief as the Court deems appropriate, in addition to a trial by jury featuring 12 jurors.

The plaintiffs are represented by Michael S. Miska of The Wolk Law Firm, in Philadelphia.

The defendants are represented by Elaine D. Solomon and Ethan Simon of Blank Rome, also in Philadelphia.

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania case 2:18-cv-02637

Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas case 170303050

From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at

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Blank Rome Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas

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