Canada… or Kanawha?

In early November, the HMCS Fredericton (a Canadian Frigate) was involved in a minor collision with the USNS Kanawha.

A few days earlier, there was a different collision between Canada and Kanawha – in the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia. The Appeals Court decided that the Circuit Court of Kanawha County, West Virginia did have jurisdiction to hear a lawsuit regarding the crash of a Canadian aircraft flown by a Canadian pilot (with one Canadian passenger on board).


The Mooney M20C aircraft, based at Buttonville Airport (just north of Toronto), was en route to the Bahamas with a Canadian pilot and passenger. Due to poor weather, the aircraft made an unscheduled stop in West Virginia. Pilot and passenger spent the night in West Virginia and then left the next morning to continue the trip. The pilot allegedly filed an IFR flight plan even though he did not have an instrument rating. Shortly into the flight, the aircraft encountered icing conditions and crashed in Virginia, approximately 20 miles from the West Virginia border.

The Appeals Court overruled the Circuit Court and found that the cause of action arose in West Virginia. It was in West Virginia where, the plaintiff alleged, the pilot made the decision to proceed despite the weather, filed an improper flight plan and decided not to return to West Virginia once the aircraft encountered icing. Based on this and other factors, including the plaintiff’s decision to commence the lawsuit in West Virginia, the Appeals Court found that West Virginia had jurisdiction to hear the claim.

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