Glorvigen v. Cirrus Design Corp.: Duty to Warn Does Not Require Duty to Train Users


In a recent ruling, the Minnesota Supreme Court held that, under Minnesota negligence law, manufacturers and suppliers have a duty to warn foreseeable users of dangers inherent in the product, and that this duty includes a duty to give adequate instructions on the safe use of the product. However, the Minnesota Supreme Court specifically declined to extend this duty to require suppliers or manufacturers to train users in the safe use of their product.

Glorvigen v. Cirrus Design Corporation, -- N.W.2d -- (2012), 2012 WL 2913203, decided on July 18, 2012, arises out of the crash of a Cirrus SR22 airplane in January 2003, which killed both men on board and destroyed the hull. Combined lawsuits brought by the estates of both decedents against Cirrus, as the manufacturer and seller, alleged breach of the duty to warn and to provide adequate instructions for the safe use of its airplanes. The pilot and owner of the accident aircraft purchased the SR22 just one month before the crash. As part of the purchase of the airplane, Cirrus provided him a two-day training program, including both ground school and flight instruction, designed to help already-licensed pilots transition into the SR22. The pilot successfully completed the transitional training, but apparently did not receive a part of the in-flight instruction that practiced a maneuver for recovery from unexpected flight while under Visual Flight Rules (VFR) into Instrument Meteorological Conditions (IMC). The crash resulted from such an encounter and the improper recovery from VFR into IMC.

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