Heath v. Swift Wings, Inc., Court of Appeals of NC, 1979 Did the trial judge misapply the objective test of “careful and prudent person” Issue
experience as Fred Heath”?

when he directed the jury to consider a “pilot of the same training and

The rule is to apply the “standard care required of an individual is the conduct of the reasonably prudent man under the same or similar circumstances” Instructions to the jury were a misapplication of the law. The instructions told the jury look at just the pilot’s particular experience (which is a subjective std of care) rather than looking at the minimum standards required from all pilots. (Fred could’ve had inferior training – that does not make it right for him to fly)

One who engages in a business, occupation, or profession…

On 8/3/1975 D’s plane crashed immediately after take off. All on board, Fred Heath, the pilot who works for D, his wife, their son, and a family friend. A freelance mechanical engineering consultant and pilot testified that Fred should have used flaps and should have landed in the corn fields since he couldn’t reach the appropriate altitude.

must exercise the requisite degree of learning, skill, and ability of that calling

with reasonable and ordinary care

Held Procedure P argues D argues

New trial ordered – Trial judge gave wrong instruction about the law. Wife’s and son’s estate sued Fred’s estate and D (the owner of the plane) for negligence. Fred was not found negligent. P appealing jury instructions. The Jury instruction said “negligence is failure to exercise that degree of ordinary care and caution which an ordinary prudent pilot having the same training and experience as Fred Heath would have used in the same or similar circumstances”

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Tags: Torts, Case, Briefs