PHI, Inc. v. Apical Industries, Inc., No. 18-31019 (5th Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
After a helicopter owned by PHI was required to make an emergency landing in the Gulf of Mexico when its Rolls-Royce-manufactured engine failed, PHI filed suit against Rolls-Royce, Apical, and OHS. The emergency flotation system manufactured by Apical and serviced by OHS partially deflated after the landing and caused the helicopter to turn over in the water, resulting in a total loss due to salt water incursion. The jury found Apical liable for the loss of the helicopter.
The Fifth Circuit held that the magistrate judge's pretrial exclusion of all evidence regarding the engine failure and verdict form rulings were in error, because, under Louisiana law, Rolls-Royce is a potential solidary obligor along with Apical. Furthermore, a finding of solidary liability would result in a reduction of damages award against Apical due to Rolls-Royce's earlier settlement with PHI. Accordingly, the court vacated the trial court's judgment and remanded for trial on the issue of solidary liability.