New York Man Killed By His Own Remote Controlled Helicopter

article-2413231-1BA58512000005DC-248_634x802There is a tragic case out of New York City this week that could be the basis for a product liability action. Roman Pirozek Jr., 19, virtually decapitated himself with his own remote-controlled Trex 700 helicopter when it cut off a piece of his skull and slashed his throat.

Pirozek is the vice-president of a local hobby club and has posted YouTube videos of his exploits with his $1,500 helicopter. The six-pound RC helicopter has a blade span of 62 inches with a rotor that spins at more than 2,000 rpm.

His father witnessed the horrific scene.

From a torts perspective, the question is one of a design defect and whether the helicopter should be able to cause such injury. This is a toy that can be purchased by any individual without a license or a permit. That creates the high likelihood of “foreseeable misuse” – misuse of a product that must be considered in its design. The danger here is clearly not only to the user but to people in the area where these toys are used. It is not enough to warning, as appears on many ads for the Trex 700, that “Users must have a certain concept of security to operate the R/C helicopters.

Be sure to read and comply with related safety notes of instruction manual before flying.” The manual for the company states that it is the sole responsibility of the users to avoid damage or injuries, but that is not the way it is viewed from a product liability perspective.

If one of these helicopter can slash a throat and cut through a skull, the question is whether it can be sold as a toy. Pirozek and others use these toys in parks and open areas with pedestrians. I understand that most are very careful but obviously there will be a certain percentage of those who misuse the product or act recklessly.

Assumption of the risk clearly looms large in such a case. The strongest product case would be to a pedestrian. This was an experienced user who likely knew of the dangers. Yet, the company also knows of the stunts and dangerous manuevers common in the use of these toys as shown on YouTube. What do you think?

28 thoughts on “New York Man Killed By His Own Remote Controlled Helicopter”

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  2. Reblogged this on Jesse Talks Back and commented:
    Personal responsibility, period, that and pure Darwinism.

    I tire of people arguing incessant risk/etc and removing the individuals decisions which in this case directly affected the individual.

  3. Why do some people always think lawsuit! or time to make one more stupid law every time someone does something stupid????? People are accountable for their own actions! Stop thinking like you need to do something every time you see someone doing something dumb! If you want to do that, try going to live in the UK. They have a law and rule for everything down to picking your nose over there!

  4. I keep seeing news pieces about these helicopters (and model airplanes as well) referring to them as “toys.” There is as much difference between a big model and a toy as there is between a bike with training wheels and a Harley-Davidson Sportster.

    Perhaps it is a matter of semantics. I once helped with security at an airshow where several P-51 Mustangs were on display. One of the big fighters had “Daddy’s Toy” painted on the nose.

    Another mistake is that rotor blades are described in some stories as being made from metal. They are not. They are made of carbon fiber.

  5. Putting limits on these machine’s performance would be difficult because these big helicopters aren’t sold ready to fly. They come as a kit of parts usually without the electronics that the user builds. The machine’s performance is a matter of what electronics and motor the user selects for his machine. You would have to go after the end users if you wanted to implement performance limits on them. Also almost all model helicopters these days come out of asia, there’s already a booming market in overseas sales of hobby equipment and spare parts from asian companies to consumers in the US. Remove these machines from US hobby shops and that’s where people would start buying them from.

  6. Hey Dennis.
    I believe you need to do more research before you start throwing the “liberal” word around likes it is an insult.

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