West v. Bell Helicopter Textron, Inc., No. 14-2168 (1st Cir. 2015)Annotate this Case
Plaintiff, a helicopter pilot, was forced to land a Bell 407 helicopter when the helicopter’s engine suddenly quit working. Plaintiff sued Defendants, alleging that the flameout was caused by false overspeed solenoid activation (FOSSA). Defendants asserted that Plaintiff’s engine flameout was not caused by FOSSA but by Plaintiff’s failure to adequately clear the helicopter of snow and ice before takeoff. The jury returned a defense verdict. After trial, two defendants issued bulletins applicable to the type of engine in Plaintiff’s helicopter addressing FOSSA. Plaintiff filed a motion for a new trial, invoking Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b)(2) and (3), arguing that the information contained in the bulletins compelled an inference that one or more defendants knew about a “circuit design error” existing at the time of Plaintiff’s accident rendering Bell 407s susceptible to FOSSA but failed to disclose it during discovery or at trial, which failure constituted misconduct. The district court denied Plaintiff’s post-trial motions. The First Circuit vacated in part and remanded, holding that the district judge misconstrued the requirements of the Rule 60(b)(3) burden-shifting inquiry set forth in Anderson v. Cryovac, Inc. Remanded for further proceedings on Plaintiff’s Rule 60(b)(3) motion.