Aviation Defense Litigation
Since 2000 we have defended a number of claims against aviation-related companies and brought subrogation claims on their behalf in all sorts of General Aviation and Airline cases. With the quality representation these defendants typically receive from the larger ‘white-shoe’ law firms but without their overhead and related fees, the Firm’s Aviation defense practice includes ramp-level incidents, in-flight passenger, baggage, and other bodily injury or delay claims, as well as de-icing and landing scenarios. The Firm is versed in cases brought under the Montreal Convention as well as the common law in various states. Following are a few examples of the work the principal at the Firm has done in this practice area over the last ten years.
Saada v. Comair, Inc.
This was a wrongful death claim under the Montreal Convention brought by a premier plaintiff’s aviation firm. In April an elderly decedent traveled from Amman, Jordan through JFK where he was connecting to Boston when he collapsed at the end of aramp. His condition deteriorated over the next few days due to a series of criticalevents. First he was taken to a local hospital where his son, upon learning of his father’s fall, discharged him against the advice of not one but two physicians and then drove him to a Boston hospital. The decedent, who had a host of pre-existing medical conditions, then spent his last six months as an in-patient as his health gradually declined, but allegedly gave his lawyer a statement one month before he died. The statement identified an event “external to the passenger” which enabled the plaintiff to survive summary judgment, but had been given when the decedent was heavilymedicated, unable to speak, intubated with a tracheotomy, and breathing with the aid of a ventilator. The case settled the day before Opening Statements for less than what had been offered at the Mediation six months earlier.
Roberts v. Delta Air Lines, Inc.:
In Roberts v. Delta Air Lines, Inc. a Flight Attendant fell on the armrest in the aisle of a 757 and claimed her fall was due to the Captain’s abrupt stop while preparing for takeoff. Within days an MRI of her lumbar spine showed extensive damage and she underwent various surgeries and was out of work for years. The IME in her workers’ compensation claim against Delta stated she was permanently disabled. Were the case to go to trial her total special damages would have been well into the six figures. Because her W-2 forms were issued by Song Airways LLC she claimed Song, not Delta, was her employer and she was therefore entitled to workers’ compensation benefits as well as a tort claim against Delta. Mr. Murphy convinced Judge Woodlock of the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts otherwise, based on the “loaned servant” doctrine, which the First Circuit later affirmed. View the Firm’s brief and the Court’s decisionwhich is at 599 F.3d 73 (2010).
McReadie v. Continental Airline Cargo:
After extensive discovery when liability was all but conceded, the defendant brought Mr. Murphy in to assist local counsel in McReadie v. Continental Airline Cargo. The plaintiff had been making a delivery to Boston’s Logan Airport when his foot was crushed in a poorly maintained hydraulic dock-leveler. He claimed the incident left him permanently and totally disabled. Despite ample evidence of Continental’s contractor’s poor maintenance of the equipment, the plaintiff only sued Continental in the United States District Court of Rhode Island. Based on in-depth focus group jury research, Continental settled with the plaintiff in the low seven figures. Mr. Murphy prepared the release which discharged the common liability and later brought suit against the contractor in Massachusetts. He was able to recover $375,000 or 70% of the $525,000 available under G.L. c. 231B, the contribution statute.