Aviation Updates

Our “Best” Results

While we naturally take great pride in our reported results, be they by trial, or published decision, we take our greatest pride in cases that will forever be “below the radar.”  These are cases that we resolve early, quietly, and efficiently with a minimum of court intervention – if any.

Examples that come to mind include the early settlement of a serious brain injury case arising from a catastrophic general aviation accident.  We settled in mediation at the claims stage – no pleadings having ever been filed. Plaintiff’s counsel was a frequent adversary, with whom we shared a long-running and cordial relationship.  Thus, there was no need to establish trust or rapport; it was already there.

In another instance, we settled a significant hull subrogation case on behalf of insurers at our opening demand – resisting the temptation to start high and bid down.  We knew the value; we know our adversary; our adversary knew us. Again, there was no litigation.

We believe that such results are enabled by our reputation for integrity and fairness with the aviation bar – both sides.

We are also relentless in our early efforts to press for indemnifications from our client’s business partners when appropriate, even though that means another law firm will likely take over the defense.

 

Some Examples of reported decisions follow:

Berlin v. JetBlue Airways Corporation, 436 F.Supp.3d 550 (E.D.N.Y. 2020)

This decision by District Judge Margo K. Brodie, adopting the finding of Magistrate Judge Lois Bloom, is replete with reaffirmations of the preemptive effect of the Montreal Convention as well as the standard for denying a motion to amend a complaint on grounds of futility.   Plaintiff sought to resurrect a host of state law claims that were previously dismissed at the pleading stage as preempted by the Montreal Convention and/or time barred.  The preempted claims included § 1983 claims for civil rights violations and various intentional tort claims.  The Court also confirmed that there was no private action available to Plaintiff under the Air Carrier Access Act.   Having failed to move to amend the complaint within the time prescribed by the scheduling Order, Plaintiff could only amend for cause and, being futile, such cause was lacking.  In dismissing the claims as futile, the Court’s ruling was the equivalent of a dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted.   The Court also confirmed the continuity from cases decided under the predecessor Warsaw Convention.

Link to decision.

Christine Carrs v. Superior Air Parts, 124 A.D.3d 710 2 N.Y.S.3d 533 (2d Dep’t 2015)

In one of the earlier appellate cases to address Daimler AG v. Bauman, 134 S.Ct. 746 (2014) ALO, acting as local counsel and for Maloney, Bean, Horn & Hull, PC, successfully procured the affirmance of the lower court’s dismissal for lack of personal jurisdiction.

An engine bearing allegedly manufactured by Superior and installed in the engine in Connecticut was Superior’s only connection to this fatal New York general aviation accident.  Superior argued that any contacts it might have with New York were not related to the accident and thereby could not form a basis for “specific jurisdiction.” Under Daimler, only Superior’s place of incorporation or principal place of business supported general jurisdiction, Superior argued.

The Second Department agreed and affirmed, citing Daimler and other authorities, including Asahi Metal Industry Co., Ltd. v Superior Court of Cal., Solano Cty., 480 U.S. 102 (1987).

Link to decision.

 

Roslin v. Spirit Airlines, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York Septemer 27, 2013 (Yanthis, M.J.)

In this unusual libel/defamation case, plaintiff claimed Spirit Airlines had defamed him after releasing to the public that he had “violat[ed] federal law by interfering with a flight crew.”

The facts of the case revealed a series of escalating encounters between plaintiff and Spirit Airlines personnel.  Eventually, Plaintiff was deplaned and reported the incident to the press. Spirit’s press release, which included the above-quoted reference, responded to Plaintiff’s opening salvo to the NY Post, which had also been picked up by various online news pages.  Plaintiff argued that the language constituted an accusation of criminal conduct on his part and, thereby, a basis for defamation per se.

The Court’s lengthy decision turned largely on the overall circumstances, which it ruled did not amount to defamation.  “Plaintiff alleges that the statements imply that he was an ‘out of control dangerous criminal.’ However, upon evaluating all of the allegedly defamatory statements, reaching such conclusion would require the Court to make a strained construction of the statements.”  The Court continued:

Spirit further alleges, and this Court agrees, that taken in the complete context, the average reader would conclude that [Plaintiff] was simply removed from the flight after creating a disturbance on the aircraft. The initial articles cited only to [Plaintiff’s] account of the incident. The updated articles provided Spirit’s “side of the story” along with [Plaintiff’s] account of the incident. As such, when viewed in the context of the entirety of each publication as a whole, tested against the understanding of the average reader, this Court concludes that the average reader would view the statements as “part of. . . accusations, and counter-accusations” concerning the incident on the plane; and not any accusation that a serious crime was committed.

The court granted summary judgment for Spirit; the decision was not appealed nor was there any settlement.

Link to decision.

 

Pellechia v. Partner Aviation Enterprise, Inc., 80 A.D.3d 740, 916 N.Y.S.2d 130, 2011 (2d Dep’t 2011)

Plaintiff claimed his slip and fall while departing a charter aircraft was due to a defect in the air stair railing, which did not extend the full length of the stair.  He further alleged that the crew had failed to offer him physical assistance while deplaning.

Partner Aviation was granted summary judgment on the ground that the aircraft had been adequately maintained as per the maintenance records reviewed by its Director of Maintenance.  Plaintiff’s engineering expert, who lacked any qualifications in aviation, could not sufficiently rebut this finding. Absent any proof of a defect or notice of a defect, summary judgment was granted.

The Appellate Division, Second Department affirmed on the additional ground that plaintiff’s expert was not timely disclosed and, further, that the air carrier’s boarding procedures were preempted by the FAA/ADA.

Link to decision.