Aviation Litigation

For companies operating in or serving the aviation industry, keeping your business on course requires a legal team that is well-versed in the intricacies of the aviation market and evolving technologies, experienced in the full range of legal disciplines and regulations impacting the industry, and capable of quickly resolving even the most catastrophic of claims.

The Aviation Litigation Practice Group at Goldberg Segalla is often called upon by airline legal departments to provide counsel and to appear in disputed matters. We have litigated and otherwise been involved in contract disputes with vendors, including, for example,  an avionics-related dispute with tens of millions of dollars at stake, disputes over staffing services, and various other vendor termination claims. We are fully familiar with passenger baggage claims, which we manage and resolve efficiently, as well as  passenger security breach claims, irate/disruptive passenger claims, and discrimination claims. We are also familiar with federal preemption pertaining to property and casualty claims, as well as claims involving loyalty (frequent flyer) programs, operations (e.g., flight scheduling), ticketing, and passenger fees. (We anticipate a sustained high frequency in this latter category, as airlines continue to unbundle fees, and in so doing expose themselves to potential consumer fraud and contract breach claims.)

Our Aviation Litigation Practice Group is led by attorneys who have decades of experience in this highly specialized field. This team includes former professionals in the aviation industry, including an aeronautical engineer and quality assurance manager. We have handled a wide range of matters involving both fixed-wing aircraft and rotorcraft (helicopters), including claims presented against: 

  • Aircraft manufacturers
  • Avionics manufacturers
  • Power plant manufacturers 
  • Maintenance and repair facilities
  • Aircraft owners
  • Aircraft operators
  • Airport operators
  • Air traffic control
  • Pilots
  • Mechanics
  • Insurance companies

Aviation Insurance Coverage

Insurance coverage is a key component of our comprehensive aviation litigation practice. We bring the full capabilities of Goldberg Segalla’s internationally renowned Global Insurance Services Practice Group to companies involved in insuring aviation-related risk.

Our team has successfully handled multi-million-dollar coverage disputes spanning a wide range of aviation claims. We represent several of the world’s most prominent insurers and reinsurers that deal significantly in the aviation industry, and thus we have firsthand knowledge of and experience with the rapidly evolving global trends in this area.

We also have extensive experience helping aviation insurers and reinsurers develop proactive internal protocols to monitor compliance and implement risk transfer mechanisms. We work collaboratively with insurers to draft policy language aimed at avoiding disputes, and we advise on captive insurance and reinsurance matters, including the drafting of reinsurance agreements to create captive reinsurance companies.

Risk Avoidance and Complex, High-Stakes Litigation

We routinely provide our aviation clients with proactive advice and counsel regarding liability risks, insurance, contractual warranty and indemnity, and other issues related to the highly regulated and intensely scrutinized business of aviation.

When a dispute or liability claim arises, we bring to each case the zealous representation, candor, and profound respect for our clients’ business reputations that earned us a legacy of successfully and efficiently managing extremely difficult, high-exposure claims.

Our team has extensive experience representing U.S.-based and foreign clients in the aviation industry from the investigation of a mishap through final judgment. We have handled complex litigation in both state and federal courts involving air crashes and other aviation-related mishaps, especially in the defense of personal injury, wrongful death, and survival actions.

Our litigation experience includes cases involving products liability, general aviation liability, property damage, cargo and baggage claims, and subrogation and recovery. We also protect the interests of our clients in this highly competitive market in litigation involving commercial and consumer claims, as well as the full range of contractual risk-shifting agreements involving airlines and airline alliances, under-wing vendors and fixed-base operators, and municipal authorities.

Representative Experience

Highlights of our experience in aviation-related matters include: 

  • Defending an air traffic controller operating at a foreign airbase in connection with a multi-fatality event
  • Defending an airline in negligent training of the cabin crew arising out of passenger assault
  • Defending airport authority against worksite claims arising from terminal expansion and construction
  • Defending an airline in a claim involving an emergency evacuation allegedly resulting in bilateral hip replacement in a healthy adult
  • Defending an airport authority in a flight crew boarding mishap resulting in total disability of a 48-year-old
  • Defending the estate of a flight instructor in a double fatality during a touch-and-go landing exercise
  • Defending a regional air carrier in connection with multiple fatalities resulting from the crash of a commuter flight on final approach
  • Defending a power plant manufacturer in general aviation product liability claims
  • Defending an avionics manufacturer in general aviation product liability claims
  • Defending a flight school sued on a theory of negligent pilot training in a general aviation fatality
  • Representing an aviation insurer in coverage litigation involving an aircraft seized on foreign soil
  • Representation of a charter airline in a contract dispute with a vendor
  • Defending airlines in passenger liability claims arising in terminals, during boarding/disembarking, and in flight
  • Defending airlines in liability claims stemming from terminal and ramp operations involving employee injuries
  • Defending an airline from allegations of food poisoning
  • Defending an aviation liability insurer against novel allegations of wrongful underwriting
  • Defending an airline from claims stemming from the in-airport death of a severely intoxicated passenger