A wrongful death lawsuit alleging faulty parachute design has been filed by the parents of a 31-year-old Navy Seal who was killed during a training exercise in California.
Chief Petty Officer Bradley Cavner died in June 23, 2014 when his reserve parachute opened while he was standing in the doorway of a C-130 plane. He hit the edge of the doorway, and died immediately on impact.
The wrongful death lawsuit was filed against Airborne Systems of North America CA. Cavner was using their MC-6 personnel parachute system. The system is commonly used in highly specialized military units. There have been multiple reports of similar issues, but this is the first fatality attributed specifically to a malfunction of the product. Cavner’s instructors were aware of at least one of these incidents and reportedly showed a video of an Army soldier’s reserve parachute unexpectedly deploying.
A month after Cavner’s death, another Army officer died while using the same parachute system at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. An investigation determined that the parachute was not solely to blame for his death.
The parachute is used in war zones for its maneuverability and slow rate of descent. It was created to open rapidly. Airborne Systems is the only source of the parachutes.
Cavener was a war veteran and served in both Iraq and Afghanistan. He had returned home from a deployment only three weeks before his death. During his service, he was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for “extraordinary guidance, zealous initiative and total dedication to duty.” He was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
Source: Parents of Navy SEAL file wrongful death claim against parachute maker, LA Times. 27 June 2016