South Dakota enacts aviation-product liability law

March 16, 2011

South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard, who has played an active role in seeking to attract new aviation investment in the state, has signed into law a liability bill barring claims for defects against aviation products more than 10 years after delivery.

The South Dakota Pilots Association joined AOPA in engaging lawmakers from the introduction of HB 1233 on Jan. 31 to its signing on March 14, he said, thanking state pilots for their energetic efforts.

The law also provides that no aviation product seller is liable in an aviation-product liability claim if the product seller can prove that the harm was caused after the aviation product’s “useful safe life had expired.”

The bill’s supporters, led by South Dakota Pilots Association Executive Director Steve Hamilton, made the case that with South Dakota in the midst of a severe budget crunch, attracting high-paying aviation jobs and protecting existing aviation jobs from costly, frivolous litigation would widen and protect the tax base.

Nationally, the General Aviation Revitalization Act of 1994 provided an 18-year statute of repose and is credited with jump-starting the virtually dormant domestic general aviation aircraft manufacturing industry.