We represent a wide range of clients engaged in aviation activities throughout the world. Our attorneys are highly experienced in legal and non-legal aviation issues which enables them to understand and develop innovative solutions to legal and business problems faced by the aviation industry.
Many of our attorneys have aviation backgrounds as pilots, air traffic controllers, mechanics and aeronautical engineers. Many of our attorneys are former FAA or Department of Justice attorneys. We also collaborate with Italian law firms when handling with transnational aviation matters. We have extensive experience in all areas of aviation law, including the following:
Our experience providing legal representation to air carriers is unrivaled. We have handled all types of legal matters on behalf of airlines, including baggage and cargo claims, slips/falls, overhead bin cases, coffee spills/burn cases, contract disputes, warranty claims, employment litigation, FAA enforcement actions, NTSB investigations and major airline disasters. Whether pending in federal or state court, or before administrative tribunals of the FAA or NTSB, our lawyers are uniquely qualified to deal with the special considerations of airline representations.
Our goal in such matters is to assist the client in resolving the matters quickly and favorably. We never lose sight of the fact that an airline’s public image is one of its most important assets and every step we take in representing our client is taken with this fact in mind.
We bring a systematized and structured approach to our airline clients. We have extensive databases of briefs, specialized pleadings, choice of law analyses, damage evaluations and technical materials. We are able to work with technical personnel in the flight and maintenance departments since we speak their language.
The technical background of our lawyers includes that of pilots, aircraft mechanics, aeronautical engineers and air traffic controllers. Moreover, the fact that so many of our lawyers have backgrounds as government aviation lawyers for the Department of Justice and Federal Aviation Administration, gives us the unique ability to deal effectively with these and other federal agencies on behalf of our airline clients. Our experience includes the following:
We act as lead counsel in the defense of airlines in major multi-district crash litigation. We defend personal injury, wrongful death, general tort, employment and breach of contract litigation and claims. We have handled a large number of cases dealing with the unique federal preemption issues which present themselves in the context of airline claims and litigation.
We have established and manage baggage and cargo claims reporting and litigation programs. We have a highly specialized team of lawyers who concentrate their practice on damage evaluations. Drawing on computerized data bases and their wide range of expertise, these lawyers have provided hundreds of comprehensive damage evaluations which form the basis for both successful settlements and trial strategies.
General Aviation Manufacturers
Over the years our lawyers have handled hundreds of general aviation matters. These have ranged from cases involving the sophisticated upper-end business aircraft such as Challenger, Learjet, Gulfstream, Citation, etc., to entry-level Cessna and Piper aircraft. For example:
We represent several major general aviation manufacturers in their most difficult and challenging lawsuits wherever they are filed through out the United States. We are national counsel for the Piper Product Liability Trust and in that capacity have evaluated every pending lawsuit and claim against Piper for the purpose of providing expert testimony on the claims before the bankruptcy court, as well as defending the Trust throughout the United States in product cases.
We represent Mooney Aircraft Corporation in all its product liability litigation throughout the world. We represent aircraft component manufacturers in product liability litigation throughout the country. We frequently assist general aviation manufacturers with problems they have with the National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration.
We have provided pre-acquisition counseling to groups contemplating the purchase of general aviation manufacturers to evaluate pending claims and structure the transaction to avoid the typical successor liability problems.
The firm has extensive experience and expertise in representing airports and airport authorities in a wide range of claims and litigation. We are counsel for some of the world’s largest metropolitan airports, as well as for numerous small regional air fields, and our work on behalf of these clients spans all types of claims from routine premises liability to complex federal multi-district litigation arising from commercial air disasters.
As a natural outgrowth of our practice, we have developed a national Airports Litigation Program for the nation’s largest insurer of airport authorities. Under this program, we are now national counsel for over 240 airports, including such major terminals as Chicago O’Hare, Atlanta Hartsfield, and Miami International.
As a national law firm we provide free legal seminars throughout the country for airport managers, quarterly newsletters, monthly “flash reports” on all pending claims, and a computer database on all airports litigation. Our work in developing the Airports Litigation Program has both crystallized our expertise in this area and provided our client with a unique marketing product for attracting additional airport insured.
FBOs, Ground Handling Services and Security Services
We represent fixed-base operators and other providers of airport ground services including security, fueling, deicing, aircraft towing, skycap services and other services necessary to keep aircraft operational and airports functioning.
Our role as national counsel for such clients is a natural fit with the national and international nature of their operations and provides consistency of representation in an efficient and economic fashion. We have developed claims and litigation management programs specific to the needs of FBOs, ground handling service providers and security service providers.
National Transportation Safety Board/Federal Aviation Administration Matters
We routinely counsel our clients with respect to problems they may have in their dealings with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Because of the depth and diversity of the backgrounds of our attorneys with the government, we have developed solid relationships which provides a unique service to our clients.
Frequently, we are able to assist our clients in resolving a problem before it develops. Where one already exists, we are typically able to help resolve it in a way that protects the client’s interests while preserving the client’s ongoing relationship with governmental authorities.
Among other things, we have assisted our clients in preparation for hearings and testimony before the NTSB, aided in resolving particularly difficult problems with the NTSB (including allegations of deliberate failure to disclose requested information) and assisted clients in resolving FAA enforcement proceedings in a manner calculated to avoid any impact from those proceedings in on-going litigation.
Aviation Product Liability Cases
The traditional product liability accident case all too often results in an expensive trial or a settlement on the courthouse steps or during jury deliberations. While this result cannot always be avoided, and may even be desirable in some cases, we believe that an exclusively trial-oriented focus in these cases can result in missed opportunities for an early settlement or a dispositive motion.
Because of our broad experience in aviation and in all types of litigation, we bring a broader focus to the aviation product liability case. For example, we have rejected the traditional wisdom that all issues in these cases must go to the jury and have found that an aggressive challenge to plaintiff’s proof of a product defect in the discovery phase of a case frequently has resulted in a successful motion for summary judgment, a nominal settlement or a voluntary dismissal.
We are or have been defense counsel in numerous aviation product liability cases and represent such well-known United States corporations as Sikorsky Aircraft Division of United Technologies Corporation, Pratt & Whitney, Hamilton-Standard, General Dynamics, General Motors Corporation, Allison Engine Company, Hydro-Aire, Inc., Lear Romec Division of Crane Co., Piper Aircraft, Cessna Aircraft, Mooney Aircraft, ICI Americas, and Allied Aerospace Corporation.
Our attorneys are the principal architects of the Government Contractor Defense enunciated by the Supreme Court in Boyle v. United Technologies Corp., 488 US 994 (1988) and are responsible for one of the major reversals of an adverse verdict in the government contractor area in Harduvel v. General Dynamics, 878 F2d 1311, (1989), cert. denied, (1990).
Our attorneys have broad experience in aviation insurance defense, handling of coverage disputes, reinsurance litigation and corporate advice to insurers. All of the lawyers who would staff these matters have extensive experience working with and reporting to insurers, both as defense counsel hired to represent an insured and as counsel hired by the insurer and reporting directly to a claims handling facility or an insurer with an indemnity obligation.
International Aviation Matters
We represent clients throughout the United States, Canada, Central and South America, Europe and Asia. These include foreign airlines, manufacturers, airports, fixed-base operators and ground service companies. The unique problems associated with international aviation matters is something which has become second nature to us.
Our attorneys have dealt with issues involving foreign accidents and claims/litigation, seizures, privatization and the unique issues presented when a client is owned by a foreign government, i.e. national airline or foreign airport.