Renaissance wins lawsuit to make planes

Tuesday, January 15, 2002

Business Today

Renaissance Aircraft has been awarded $2.7 million in compensatory and punitive damages from the foundation that had claimed it had terminated the company's license to build its aircraft. An Arizona arbitrator made the decision last week.

Renaissance president John Dearden says the money could be a long time coming and that his company is looking for $2 million from investors to keep the Cape Girardeau-based business afloat.

Court documents provided by Renaissance show that the arbitration process ended with the Don Luscombe Aviation History Foundation being deemed unjustified in its attempt to terminate the license with Renaissance.

The document also says that the license is still in full effect, meaning that Renaissance will continue to have exclusive rights to build the Luscombe 8F, a 1930s-style, two-seater recreational plane.

The damages come from Renaissance's counterclaim that Renaissance has lost money because the foundation's communications with the Federal Aviation Administration and others interfered with the aircraft company's ability to make money.

One other significant court matter is in Georgia where the company was located before relocating to Cape Girardeau. In that suit, the foundation claims that Renaissance wrongly took $8 million in equipment -- machinery, tooling jigs and dies -- needed to build the Luscombe. That suit is still ongoing.

But the fight has "financially exhausted" Renaissance, Dearden said, leaving the company in a mode of trying to raise capital. While the company is very close to finishing three planes, it is now slowing down production until it gets more money.

"Once we raise the money to support our operation, we can produce 50 aircraft in the first year," he said. "Eventually, we could plateau at 500 or more aircraft per year." The company is looking coast to coast for investors, but Dearden said he hopes to get some local investors.

Despite its recent troubles, he said, the company is solid and would be a good investment.

Cape Girardeau Regional Airport manager Bruce Loy said the announcement was good news. "Of course we were glad to hear it," Loy said.

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