Aviation Law Practice
Bryan Cave has had an active aviation practice for the past four decades. Our aviation practice has focused primarily on defending manufacturers, fixed base operators/ground handlers, and airports domestically and abroad. In addition to vigorous representation of our clients throughout all stages of litigation, our responsibilities have included administering and defending claims, product liability counseling, investigating the factual background of an accident or incident, assisting our clients during investigations conducted by the National Transportation Safety Board and the Department of Transportation, representing our clients in administrative proceedings with the Federal Aviation Administration, and identifying and retaining experts. When called for, we have worked with our clients and overseas governmental investigative agencies such as the AAIB (UK), ATSB (Australia) and TSB (Canada).
A limited sample of Bryan Cave’s experience in administering and defending aviation and aerospace claims includes:
Aviation Claims Administration
- Bryan Cave administers all aviation and aerospace claims for McDonnell Douglas Corporation (“MDC”) from 1978 through the present (including claims that were in “run-off” following MDC’s 1997 merger with Boeing). The lead London aviation Underwriter for MDC was originally the Ariel Syndicate at Lloyd’s, which is now part of ACE European Group.
Representative General Aviation Experience
- Represent a MRO facility in litigation arising from a South American aircraft accident in which eleven persons were killed.
- Represent a leading avionics manufacturer in lawsuit involving crash of a light aircraft at French Valley, California.
- Represent a leading piston engine manufacturer in numerous cases throughout the United States involving claims of wrongful death and personal injury.
- Represented various fixed base operators and ground handling companies in numerous investigations, claims and lawsuits.
- Represented a turbine engine overhaul shop in litigation arising from an aircraft accident in which six skydivers and the pilot were killed.
- Represented a component manufacturer in two sets of actions arising out of two mid-air incidents involving Dassault Falcon aircraft.
- Represented a commercial production company in wrongful death actions arising out of a helicopter crash in which a high-profile commercial director and three other persons were killed.
- Retained at the post-trial stage to handle the appeals (and any retrials) on behalf of a helicopter engine manufacturer after a $420 million verdict.
- Represented various defendants in litigation arising out of several general aviation accidents in which allegedly defective aviation fuel was at issue.
Representative Commercial Aviation Experience
- Spanair MD-82 Accident at Madrid, Spain (representing manufacturer in civil and criminal actions arising out of August 20, 2008 accident)
- AtlasJet MD-82 Accident at Isparta, Turkey (representing manufacturer in wrongful death actions arising out of November 30, 2007 accident)
- One-Two-Go MD-82 Accident at Phukent, Thailand (representing manufacturer in wrongful death and personal injury actions arising out of September 17, 2007 accident)
- FedEx MD-11 Accident at Newark, New Jersey, (represented manufacturer in hull loss action and third-party cargo accident at Newark Airport)
- Korean Air Flight 801 Accident at Guam, (defended the Guam International Airport Authority in connection with the August 6, 1997 accident at Guam International Airport)
- ValuJet Flight 592 Accident, (defended manufacturer in wrongful death claims of ValuJet Flight 592 accident on May 11, 1996, near Miami, Florida)
- China Eastern MD-Mid-Air Incident on April 6, 1993, (defended manufacturer in 175 claims arising from inadvertent slat deployment near the Aleutian Islands)
- United Airlines DC 10 Accident at Sioux City, Iowa, (defended manufacturer in claims arising out of accident)
- In Re Air Crash Disaster at Detroit Metropolitan Airport on August 18, 1987, US District Court, Eastern District of Michigan (defended manufacturer in 18-month jury trial arising out of Northwest Airlines Flight accident resulting in defense verdict upheld by Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals)
- In Re Air Crash Disaster near Chicago, Illinois, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois (defended manufacturer in wrongful death claims arising from American Airlines DC-10 accident)
- In re Crash near Cali, Colombia on December 20, 1995, Represented navigational data supplier for flight management system in crash of a 757 aircraft involving the wrongful death claims of 163 passengers.
- In Re: Air Crash Off Point Magu, California, on January 31, 2000, U.S. District Court Northern District of California. This multi-district litigation matter involved wrongful death and survival claims by heirs and estates of the 88 passengers and crew who perished in the crash of Alaska Airlines Flight 261 on January 31, 2000 near Point Mugu, California.
Representative Military Aircraft Experience
- Lowry v. McDonnell Douglas Corporation, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Missouri (obtained summary judgment on behalf of manufacturer in claim arising out of F-15 accident; affirmed by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals)
- Mounsey, et al. v. McDonnell Douglas Corporation, et al., U.S. District Court, Central District of California (obtained summary judgment on behalf of manufacturer defending claim arising out of “friendly fire” shoot down of two Black Hawk helicopters by two F-15 aircraft in northern Iraq; plaintiffs waived appeal)
- Kerstetter v. Pacific Scientific, (defended seatbelt manufacturer in mishap involving Navy aircraft near Corpus Christi, Texas. Obtained winning opinion from 5th Circuit Court of Appeal based on government contractor’s defense)
- Delta II Mishap at Cape Canaveral, (defended manufacturer in claims arising out of failed launch of Delta II rocket)
- Appalachian Ins. Co. v. McDonnell Douglas Corporation, et al., (defended manufacturer in claims arising out of failed deployment of two satellites from Space Shuttle)
- Currently represent an aerospace manufacturer in a lawsuit involving significant damage to a communications satellite.
- Defend claims on behalf of various airports, including the Guam International Airport Authority, the Saipan International Airport Authority, and BBA Aviation.
Product Integrity Counseling
- Bryan Cave has had extensive experience providing product liability counseling on aviation issues to such companies as Teledyne, McDonnell Douglas Corporation, The Boeing Company, Meggitt, Ciba Specialty Chemicals, AmSafe Aviation, Quest Aircraft, Garmin and the Guam International Airport Authority. We have served as instructors for a course on product liability prevention and risk management that was a required part of Douglas Aircraft Company’s Aircraft System Engineer/Manager Certification Program. We have also counseled our clients on participating in commercial and military accident investigations and safety audits and how to contractually limit their product liability exposure. We have conducted safety audits and training courses for management and line employees of manufacturers, ground handlers, fixed base operators, and airports.