NASCAR sues plane maker over crash that killed 5

NASCAR and one of its companies are suing Cessna for damages, saying the aircraft company's negligence and its faulty plane are responsible for a crash last year that killed five people. The plane that slammed into two houses in Sanford, Florida in July 2007 was "unreasonably dangerous and defective," and Cessna's instructions, warnings, inspections and repairs for the aircraft were inadequate, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday in circuit court.

Cessna attorneys could not be reached for comment, and a spokesman for the Kansas-based company said he couldn't discuss pending litigation. The spokesman did say he's not sure if anyone else has sued Cessna over the July 2007 crash. The amount of money sought in the lawsuit is not specified, but NASCAR has already paid at least $1 million to the family of one of the two men killed in the plane, 56-year-old Michael Klemm, a NASCAR pilot. Klemm and 54-year-old Dr. Bruce Kennedy flew together in the Cessna 310R the morning of July 10, 2007. The two men were on a recreational flight from Daytona Beach to Lakeland. Ten minutes after they got into the air, they began experiencing problems in the cockpit of the twin engine aircraft. Klemm and Kennedy were one minute shy of an emergency landing at Sanford Orlando International Airport, but suddenly the plane veered to the right, clipped a tree and crashed into two houses inside The Preserve at Lake Monroe subdivision in Sanford. Both men were killed on impact. Kennedy's widow is Lesa France Kennedy, president of NASCAR sister company International Speedway Corp.

The National Transportation Safety Board has not yet released its final report on the cause of the crash. But NASCAR already believes the accident was caused by an electrical fault in the aircraft wiring installed in the aircraft by the manufacturer in 1977. Since 1983, 461 accidents have involved a Cessna 310 model, according to the AOPA Air Safety Foundation accident database. Of those accidents, 137 involved at least one fatality. Cessna spokesman Doug Oliver has said in the past that Cessna 310s have "millions of flights hours and an excellent safety record." Daytona Beach News Journal

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