Plane Manufacturer Lawsuits Limited By New Alabama Law

Alabama lawmakers have passed a new law that will require lawsuits alleging that an airplane is defective to be filed within two years of an accident or other incident involving the plane, but no more than 12 years after the aircraft was manufactured. 

The law was signed by Alabama Governor Robert Bentley last week and is designed to attract aircraft suppliers for Airbus, which is opening a new plant in Mobile that broke ground on April 1.

The legislation will limit the ability of individuals injured due to problems with aircrafts to pursue claims against manufacturers or suppliers, indicating that no claims will be permitted more than 12 years after the plane is delivered, in addition to the two year statute of limitations.

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The plant is expected to generate 1,000 new jobs for the state, with officials hoping to draw an additional 3,700 jobs by pulling in parts suppliers. State lawmakers said the bill aims to make Alabama competitive with neighboring states, Florida and Mississippi, which have similar laws. Plaintiff lawyers worked with state lawmakers to pass the legislation, which moved through both state houses unanimously.

The new law is limited to commercial planes with at least 100 seats, which is what the Airbus plant is expected to produce. Smaller airplanes are not covered by the law.

The law limiting litigation was part of a deal the state cut with Airbus to get it to build the plant. In addition, the state also gave away $158 million in tax breaks, incentives and cash to get the plant to move there. To date only one supplier has agreed to follow Airbus to the state, Safran Engineering Services, which is expected to employ up to 50 workers.

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