Aviation

For more than 50 years, Wicker Smith has represented the world’s leading commercial airlines, airports, fixed base operators, aircraft manufacturers, and product manufacturers in both State and Federal courts. Our Aviation Team includes lawyers with extensive experience in all areas of aviation litigation, as well as a board-certified specialist in Aviation Law who is also an active instrument-rated airplane pilot. We have been engaged by aircraft operators, fixed base operators, air carriers and maintenance facilities during NTSB investigations following major aircraft accidents. Areas of representation include:

  • Accident Reconstruction
  • Air Carrier Accidents and Crashes
  • Crisis Response and Management
  • General Aviation Accidents and Crashes
  • Helicopter Accidents and Crashes
  • Insurance Disputes
  • On-Site Crash Investigations
  • Representation In NTSB and FAA Investigations

The firm’s experience dates back to the 1990’s when we served as lead counsel for ValuJet in the multi-district litigation for the ValuJet crash in the Florida Everglades, as well as the Bahamas crash of a Cessna 402 carrying the entertainer Aaliyah. Outside of Florida, the firm represented Delta Airlines in a Comair crash of an Embraer Air-120 near Detroit, Michigan.

Additional involvement in the aviation industry included serving as lead counsel for Chalks in the incident involving the crash of their Grumman Mallard seaplane that occurred in Miami Harbor. Our work also continued for major airlines, including acting as counsel for Comair and Delta Airlines in the Lexington, Kentucky crash of Comair Flight 5191 and participating as co-counsel for US Airways in the Flight 1702 crash in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Today our aviation team boasts significant experience and specialized knowledge of aviation law, current industry standards, and technical aspects of aircraft operation and maintenance. Our team is proud to serve as national litigation counsel to one of the world’s largest providers of FBO services; representing major aircraft manufacturers in aircraft maintenance disputes; and representing aircraft training facilities in claims for breach of contract and/or negligence.

Whether dealing with claims brought through the Montreal Convention or serving as coverage counsel to a major insurance carrier for aircraft hull claims arising from acts of war, this team is prepared to vigorously advocate for our clients’ interests and defend against legal claims in various forums, including negotiation, mediation, arbitration and courtroom litigation.

Summary Judgment Upheld on Appeal for Major US Airline

Attorneys: Michael R. D’Lugo, Christopher J. Jahr

Plaintiff sued our client, a major Atlanta-based airline, in federal court and alleged she suffered a compression fracture in her spine as the result of a hard landing on a flight from Fort Lauderdale to Raleigh. The defense of this case was initially problematic because Plaintiff produced medical records showing she was diagnosed with a compression fracture of her spine shortly after the landing and she ultimately underwent spinal surgery to correct the condition.

After disclosing the opinions of defense experts, our team moved for summary judgment and established there was no evidence of a “hard landing”. In a series of Court Orders, the trial court granted our motion to strike the Plaintiff’s piloting expert and also granted our motion for summary judgment.

Plaintiff appealed these decisions. The Appellate Court affirmed summary judgment and adopted the arguments and law from our appellate brief. This opinion from the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit will now provide helpful legal precedent on these issues moving forward.

Dismissal of All Claims Upheld on Appeal

Attorneys: Michael R. D’Lugo, Christopher J. Jahr, Brandon M. Polsky

We defended an aircraft repair facility against claims of corrosion that allegedly occurred due to routine aircraft cleanings. We successfully obtained a dismissal of all claims against our client and the dismissal was affirmed on appeal by Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal.

Summary Judgment in Case Involving Intoxicated Passenger

Attorneys: Christopher J. Jahr, Carlos “Charlie” Garcia

We successfully defended a major Atlanta-based airline in this federal court lawsuit in which Plaintiff was denied boarding privileges because she appeared intoxicated. The Plaintiff claimed she was not intoxicated, but had recently chipped a tooth, leaving it difficult for her to speak clearly, and she claimed to have a blister on her foot, which made it difficult for her to balance.  The trial court granted our motion for summary judgment.  This published opinion has been cited multiple times and continues to serve as helpful precedent in Florida for air carriers.

In re: International Air Crash Litigation

Attorneys: Jason A. Glusman, Christopher J. Jahr, Carlos “Charlie” Garcia, Brandon M. Polsky

We have represented several major air carriers throughout the years with accident investigation and litigation arising from the Montreal Convention and Warsaw Convention for aircraft accidents occurring both within and outside the United States.

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