Joseph Maj wrote:
How about an article in Sport Aviation on how to sell a homebuilt so that the chance of a lawsuit is practically zero? Might help get some more really nice homebuilts back into circulation.
Well...this is kind of a "Bad News/Good News" situation.
The bad news is that there *is* no way to completely shed one's vulnerability to a lawsuit.
Get the buyer to sign a waiver? The buyer cannot waive his spouse's or children's right to sue, nor will the waiver helps you if he re-sells the plane.
Disassemble the plane and sell it as parts? The makers of aviation parts are sued all the time!
The fact is, if someone *wants* to sue you, they will, and there's no way to dance around it. Even if you got them to sign an ironclad waiver, their suit can claim you mis-represented the condition of the parts and thus the waiver should be nullified.
The good news? Well, the good news is that lawsuits against homebuilders are extremely rare. There have been numerous suits against kit companies, but I'm only aware of one against a builder...and the builder was dismissed from the suit very early.
It all boils down to "deep pockets"...most homebuilders don't have them. The typical lawsuit after a crash is handled on a contingency basis, where the plaintiff's attorney is paid a rather hefty portion of any settlement. If the judgment puts the defendant into bankruptcy, the plaintiff's attorney will have expended hundreds of hours for nothing. The builder of a typical Pietenpol, Baby Ace, T-18, and other older homebuilts shouldn't have much to worry about. The vast majority don't have the kind of liquid assets that would attract an attorney on a contingency basis.
This doesn't even get into the issues involved with convincing a jury that someone who buys an "amateur-built" flying machine could have any expectation of a given level of quality. The FAA actually does us a favor here, by requiring us to put "Passenger Warnings" on our airplanes that warn any or all occupants that the aircraft does comply with federal safety standards.