Heath v. Swift Wings, Inc.
COA NC - 1979
- D was a pilot involved in a plane crash that killed his child, his wife (P), and one other person.
- D was observed loading and reloading the passengers and luggage before takeoff.
- D taxied down the runway and took off, but the plane did not get far off of the ground.
- Testimony was introduced at trial that the pilot should have used his flaps during takeoff in order to fly safely.
- P's estate sued D in negligence.
- Trial court offered instruction that D must act with the ordinary care and caution as an ordinary pilot having the same experience as D.
- Trial court found D not liable.
- COA NC reversed, remanded for new trial.
- What is the appropriate standard of care in negligence cases involving pilots (professionals, in general)?
- For pilots (and professionals, in general), the appropriate standard of car in negligence cases is the ordinary care of an ordinary pilot (professional).
- The reasonably prudent man standard is constant for normal people but differs when used in cases involving professionals.
- The professional standard must remain an objective standard.
- Objective standards avoid the evil of imposing different standards on different people in the same profession.
- The instructions in this case are misleading; the jury should not consider D's own particular training and experience in determining requisite behavior.
- Can't say average professional (since that would say the conduct must be better than half of professionals out there). Have to say ordinary.