Resident Sues N.Y. Yankee Cory Lidle’s Estate Over Plane Crash

May 14, 2007

Stephane Sparta was at home in his 31st floor apartment when New York Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle’s small plane crashed into the floor below.

The plane didn’t hit Sparta, “but it gave him quite a shock,” said his lawyer, David C. Cook. “It came as close to giving him a haircut as you can get.”

Sparta, an architect, has sued Lidle’s estate, claiming his home was destroyed and he was emotionally injured by the crash.

Sparta says in court papers that he was forced to abandon his apartment after Lidle’s Cirrus SR-20 plane crashed into the building on Manhattan’s Upper East Side on Oct. 11, 2006. Sparta’s court papers say parts of the airplane wreckage “exploded” into his living room, “setting the contents on fire and otherwise destroying the apartment and the property therein.”

The plane, with Lidle and flight instructor Tyler Stanger aboard, hit the East 72nd Street luxury building on the 30th floor. Lidle, 34, and Stanger, 26, were killed in the crash.

The two had taken a midday flight past the Statue of Liberty and north up the East River. They apparently had trouble when they tried to turn and head south.

The National Transportation Safety Board investigated, but its report said it reached no final conclusions about the cause of the accident; nor did the agency’s report say who was at the controls when the airplane crashed.

Sparta’s court papers say, “The crash, the explosion, and the resulting fire and smoke caused by the aircrash of Oct. 11, 2006, caused plaintiff extreme terror and fear for his life.”

Sparta suffered “extensive mental anguish, emotional distress and fear of physical harm,” according to the lawsuit, the third filed against the Lidle estate as a result of the crash.

Sparta and his girlfriend, who lived with him in the apartment, have moved to another apartment in the building, Cook said.

The lawyer said Sparta has been trying to resume working normally, but “he has significant emotional injuries from the shock of this. He has post-traumatic stress disorder.”

Sparta’s lawsuit, filed last Thursday in Manhattan’s state Supreme Court, names Lidle’s wife, Melanie Lidle, as the defendant in her capacity as administrator of her late husband’s estate. The lawsuit asks unspecified money damages.

A lawyer for Melanie Lidle, Robert N. Clarke Jr., did not immediately return a call for comment. In March, Clarke issued a statement saying attorneys for the Lidle and Stanger families had filed wrongful-death lawsuits against Cirrus Design Corp., maker of the airplane, in California. He said the lawsuits allege product liability, negligence and other complaints.

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