The court today issued an opinion in a products liability indemnification case arising out of a helicopter crash in North Carolina. The company that operated the helicopter sued the manufacturer of a defective gearbox after the operator settled with the estate of the deceased pilot for $2.5 million. The gearbox maker had agreed to indemnify the operator for all losses, claims, and expenses arising out of any defective work. The jury found that the negligence of both parties had been a proximate cause of the accident, but the trial court set aside that finding with respect to the gearbox manufacturer and rendered a take-nothing judgment on the operator’s indemnification claim. The court of appeals affirmed, holding that there was sufficient evidence that the operator’s negligence caused the helicopter to crash. The court then accepted the manufacturer’s argument that the express negligence doctrine barred the operator’s indemnity claim because the indemnity agreement failed to state that it would require the manufacturer to indemnify against the operator’s own negligence. Even though the manufacturer’s own negligence had been found to be a proximate cause of the crash, the operator could not recover against the manufacturer because the parties did not contract for proportionate indemnity.
American Eurocopter Corp. v. CJ Systems Aviation Group, No. 05-10-00342-CV