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Man sues over parachute accident

(ran PC edition)

A Lutz man injured when the powered parachute he was piloting crash landed in 1999 filed a lawsuit this week against the manufacturer and the people who sold him the $20,000 craft.

John Hoagland, 58, filed lawsuit Monday in circuit court claiming product liability and negligence.

According to the lawsuit, Hoagland bought the craft _ a metal frame fitted with an aircraft motor under a giant parachute _ after seeing it at an air show in Lakeland. His complaint states he was using the craft in New York on June 15, 1999 at 900 feet in the air when his engined died, probably from a fuel system defect.

He crashed into trees. Hoagland's Tampa attorney, Henry Valenzuela, said Hoagland broke his back in the crash and has had a series of surgeries that left the former auto parts dealer and decorated Vietnam veteran pilot disabled.

The lawsuit names the powered parachute maker, Buckeye Industries, as well as Buckeye Aviation and Buckeye Powered Parachutes.

But Buckeye Aviation President Butch Howard said Tuesday the original company that made the craft Hoagland was in, Buckeye Industries, is no longer in existence. It was formerly run by his relatives, but it was bought out and later closed in 2000.

Buckeye Aviation and Buckeye Powered Parachutes were founded later and had nothing to do with the original craft, Howard said.

He also said a lawsuit against a powered parachute company would be unusual. The craft, he said, are safe and stable, and accidents are rare. Buyers are trained and sign waivers, showing they understand the potential for problems, he said.

The lawsuit claims powered parachute dealer Southern Flights and a salesman hid the dangers from Hoagland. Both are also listed in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit, which includes Hoagland's wife as a plaintiff, does not specify damages being sought. It demands a jury trial.

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