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1st Reno Air Race Lawsuit Filed: Widow Sues for $25M

By Andrew Chow, Esq. on November 03, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The first Reno air race lawsuit has been filed from the air race crash that killed 11 people and injured more than 70 in September.

A Texas widow has sued for $25 million for the wrongful death of her husband, Craig Salerno, 50. He was one of the hundreds of spectators on hand when a modified vintage plane crashed into the tarmac.

So why file suit in Texas, more than 1,500 miles away?

Because the plane's mechanic allegedly modified it in Collins County near Dallas. Generally a plaintiff can sue in any district where a defendant lives or does business, or where substantial events leading to the lawsuit occurred. That doesn't mean the defendants can't try to change venue, of course.

Regardless of where the case is litigated, how strong of a case is this?

For a wrongful death lawsuit to succeed, essentially four elements must be present:

  • a death;
  • relatives who suffered monetary damages;
  • a personal representative for the victim's estate; and
  • negligence or intent to cause harm.

If this case heads to trial, the negligence element may become an issue. This first Reno air race lawsuit emphasizes the plane's "radical" modifications. With 11 killed and 74 injured in the Reno air race crash -- one of the deadliest in recent memory -- this suit is sure to be the first of many.

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