Aviation Litigation

Practice Leaders

Practice Areas

Overview

Aviation litigation presents distinct challenges for trial counsel.  Specialized technical and regulatory knowledge is critical to the effective handling of an aviation case.  In addition to broad experience as sophisticated trial attorneys, Reed Smith aviation litigators are experts in the field of aviation.  Whether the case involves the design or manufacture of an aircraft or component parts, aircraft and airline operations or aircraft maintenance, Reed Smith aviation group attorneys will be familiar with the key technical, regulatory and legal issues.  Similarly, we have broad experience in the legal doctrines, conventions and statutes that arise with regularity in the aviation context including the Warsaw Convention/Montreal Convention, Airline Deregulation Act and Federal Aviation Act preemption, the government contractor defense, the economic loss doctrine, the General Aviation Revitalization Act and the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act.

The aviation group’s familiarity with aviation issues enables us to effectively advise our clients on how best to avoid litigation or pitfalls that compromise subsequent litigation.  We have developed particular expertise in advising manufacturers of aircraft with respect to such areas as warnings, accident investigation, document retention, documentary privileges, and legal aspects of product integrity programs.  Our goal is to help our clients avoid practices and procedures that are either “litigation magnets,” or which will impair our client’s defense in the event of litigation.

We prepare every case with the expectation that it will go to trial.  Drawing on Reed Smith’s significant litigation support services and staff, aviation group attorneys are equipped and experienced in handling complex and document intensive cases efficiently.  Reed Smith has long been a leader in the implementation of litigation technology, and aviation group attorneys have become intimately familiar with procedures for identifying and managing electronic documents during discovery and trial.  We have made a study of the effective presentation of complex products and concepts to jurors, whether it be through still graphics or cutting-edge animations.  Because much of the litigation we handle is for high stakes, the aviation group has become well familiar with the use of focus groups and mock trials to assist in evaluating risks and honing litigation strategies.

Our aviation clients’ legal needs extend beyond tort litigation and beyond the boundaries of the continental United States.  In light of this, aviation group attorneys frequently collaborate with specialists from other Reed Smith practice groups and with attorneys from our UK offices.  By doing so, Reed Smith is able to offer air carriers, charter operators and aviation manufacturers a wide range of services – including labor and employment, securities, aircraft finance, corporate and antitrust – that are tailored to their specialized needs.

Meet The Team

Experience

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Successfully defended client in regards to aviation accident involving two wrongful deaths. Plaintiffs allege a defect in aircraft engine bearings allegedly manufactured and distributed by our client
Defending avionics manufacturer in litigation related to the June 2009 crash of Air France Flight 447 en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris.
Advised major aircraft manufacturer on liability issues arising from significant product and operational integrity matters, and on general commercial litigation issues
Obtained defense verdict on behalf of airplane manufacturer in four-week, high profile jury trial in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Plaintiffs sought compensatory and punitive damages in excess of $60 million for wrongful death, asserting product liability claims for alleged defects in the design and manufacture of the airplane.
Secured declaratory judgment in favor of airport terminal operator in action seeking additional insured coverage under subcontractor’s policy of insurance.
Lead counsel for major U.S. airline in high profile Multi-District Litigation stemming from crash of commuter aircraft.
Defend Experimental Aircraft Association in action stemming from crash of an antique bi-plane following air show, which included successfully obtaining a venue transfer to the Eastern District of Wisconsin, where our client maintains its place of business 
Achieved multi-million dollar recovery for foreign airline in action against refueling company to recover for fire damage caused to Boeing 777 aircraft during refueling operations.
National trial counsel for manufacturer of advanced technology general aviation aircraft
Lead counsel for the United States in multidistrict litigation arising out of the crash of US Airways flight 1016 in Charlotte, North Carolina
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Publications

22 February 2008
8 March 2007
February 2007
14 December 2006
September 2006
August 2006
May 2006