C150 Hit Truck While On Approach To Land
While the crew at Aero-News freely admits to being wholly and
completed biased on the side of aviation in almost all matters...
even we must admit this one is rather strange, at least on the
Two Michigan courts have ruled the insurer of a truck hit by a
Cessna 150L (file photo of type, above) as the aircraft was on
approach for a short-field landing at North Cedar Airport (MI73)
must pay $18,000 for damage to the airplane, which nosed over after
clipping the truck and came to a rest upside-down in a nearby
The May 2003 incident occurred outside Cedar Springs, MI when
pilot Richard DeGraw and his wife, Karol, were attempting to land
on a rain-softened turf runway when the aircraft clipped the truck
hauling broken concrete. The truck was lawfully driving on a road
adjacent to the field, according to media reports.
Fortunately, both the
two passengers aboard the Cessna as well as the truck's driver,
Kevin Gould, survived the accident, although Karol DeGraw received
The NTSB Probable Cause report states Richard DeGraw's
"inadequate glidepath and his failure to maintain obstacle
clearance" was the primary cause of the accident, with the truck a
The report also observed DeGraw would have needed to fly a 28
degree glideslope in order to avoid an 11-foot-tall truck being
driven on the road off the approach end of the runway, far steeper
than the 3 degree standard -- although as a private airport, MI73
does not need to comply with federal regulations.
All's well that ends well... until, that is, the truck's owner,
Dean Wall, received a letter from the DeGraws stating a claim had
been filed against his company's insurance provider, Cincinatti
Insurance, seeking payment for damage to the totalled airplane.
Dean Wall, founder of Dean's Landscaping in Sand Lake and the
truck's owner, said he got a letter from the DeGraws a few weeks
after the crash. It said a claim was filed against his insurance
company, seeking payment for the damage to the totalled
The case first went to trial in November 2004, and the court
agreed: Wall's insurance provider had to pay the bill for damage to
the plane... that hit the company's truck.
"I think it's absolutely absurd and asinine," Wall told The
Grand Rapids Press earlier this week. "It's unbelievable."
It's also, apparently,
the law -- at least in Michigan. The DeGraws' lawyer, J. Paul
Janes, argued successfully in both the original case and a
subsequent appeal by Cincinnati Insurance that Michigan's no-fault
insurance statute only calls for compensation in property-damage
cases that occur in collisions between motor vehicles designed to
be driven upon roads and things that are not, when the collisions
do not occur upon roads.
Janes successfully argued since the 150L was not a highway
vehicle -- and since it struck the truck and never actually touched
the road surface -- the accident didn't occur "upon" a road. (And
yes, even the definition of the word "upon" was argued... complete
In briefs filed with the court, Cincinnati Insurance lawyer
David Campos argued that the definitions of "motor vehicle" and
"upon a road" were too narrow and not what the no-fault statute
intended. The court didn't buy it.
While Campos is magnanimous in defeat -- even stating the
no-fault law is, by and large, a good thing to have -- he still
says changes are needed.
As for DeGraw, he has yet to receive a dime from Wall's
insurance company -- although Wall already has a $59,000 claim
against his policy, reflecting the costs of taking the case to