Lawsuit filed in training death of Ohio paratrooper

By GREG SOWINSKI | The Lima News, Ohio | Published: June 25, 2013

LIMA, Ohio — A lawsuit has been filed on behalf of an Elida High School graduate killed when his parachute did not open during a military training exercise two years ago against the manufacturer of the parachute.

James Parker, the administrator for the estate of Jamal Clay, filed the lawsuit this month against HDT Global of Wilmington, Del.; Airborne Systems of North America of West Trenton, N.J.; AeroStar International of Sioux Falls, S.D.; BAE Systems of Raleigh, N.C.; and any unknown parties to be discovered.

The lawsuit seeks more than $25,000 in damages connected to Clay’s death on June 25, 2011, at Fort Bragg, N.C.

Clay, 25, was a staff sergeant and a member of the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division. He was on a training exercise where soldiers were jumping from a plane making static-line jumps, which is a line that opens the parachute as the soldier leaves the plane and is clear of it.

Clay was making a jump from 800 feet when his parachute failed to properly open. He plummeted to his death. The parachute was the T-11, a newer designed being phased in to replace the T-10 parachute, which has been in use for more than 50 years.

Possible problems were found with the T-11 parachutes after Clay’s death and the Army suspended use of the parachutes.

The lawsuit alleges the parachute malfunctioned and the companies named as defendants were negligent in the manufacturing of the parachutes.

A representative of HDT Global could not be reached for comment Monday.

The parachutes had potential packing, inspection, quality control and functional problems with the main and reserve parachutes, the lawsuit said.

Parachutes had tangled pack assist loops, improper corner arm folds, improper slowed bridle and a twist in the top of the canopy, and failed pull tests of the reserve parachutes, the lawsuit said.

The canopy of the parachutes had rips, tears and abrasions in the body of the parachutes, the lawsuit said.

Materials used to make the parachutes were faulty, failed to be of sufficient strength, were frail and inappropriate for use by the U.S. military and Clay, the lawsuit said.

The defendants placed the defective parachutes on the market that were unsafe and dangerous for use and unreliable, the lawsuit said.

The defendants also failed to recall the T-11 parachutes when it became know there were defects with the design and manufacturing, the lawsuit said.


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