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Blame placed on pilots at Lidle trial

A lawyer for the manufacturer of the small plane that New York Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle and a flight instructor were piloting when they crashed into a Manhattan apartment building in 2006 told a jury Wednesday that the victims, not the company, were to blame for their deaths.

California attorney Todd Macaluso told jurors that he would prove that an aircraft company rushed the plane into production a decade ago with an inferior control system. Lidle and flight instructor Tyler Stanger desperately tried to re-engage a jammed steering system as the plane went out of control, rolling and dropping altitude in the last 45 seconds before the crash, Macaluso said.

The jury heard opening statements in a lawsuit brought by Lidle's wife and the Stanger family that blames Cirrus Design Corp. for the crash. Lidle, who was 34, died just days after his baseball season ended.

The Duluth, Minn.-based company is "genuinely sorry" that its Cirrus SR-20 was involved in the incident that instantly killed Lidle and Stanger, attorney Patrick Bradley said in U.S. District Court in Manhattan. But it "is wrong and unfair to blame someone for something they didn't do," Bradley said.

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