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  1. Transport: aviation and air travel
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Who Represents Who

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Unparalleled in the field’, Hogan Lovells US LLP’s global aviation department provides ‘a full suite of services across the spectrum of legislative and federal agency work’. Led out of Washington DC by Robert Cohn, the group represented Aerodynamics Incorporated before the Department of Transportation (DOT), preserving the carrier’s operating authority against a threat of revocation. The ‘smart and proficient’ Lisa Ellman and ‘impressive’ Ted Ellett are part of the firm’s specialized unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) practice, and have respectively advised Turner Broadcasting and Google on their ability to operate drones for various purposes. One of the founders of the aviation group, George Carneal handled DOT and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) authorizations for Sichuan Airlines regarding its first scheduled service from China to the US, and continues to advise the carrier on regulatory issues as they arise. Other clients include aircraft manufacturer Aerion Corporation, Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings and the State of Alaska.

Holland & Knight LLP handles the gamut of aviation-related work, from lease and portfolio restructurings, to nuanced regulatory advice, and litigation covering product liability, federal pre-emption, aircraft accidents and personal injury. Anita Mosner in Washington DC has assisted foreign air carriers such as Air Serbia and Volaris with obtaining US traffic rights, and is also working to expand the operating rights of Venezuelan airline Avior. Gary Halbert (also in Washington DC) has been particularly active in aviation-related litigation, having represented aerospace companies in multiple crash and product liability suits. The litigation team also handles personal injury cases for domestic and international air carriers, including Lufthansa, American Airlines and Air France. San Francisco-based William Piels and New York-based Fred Bass are members of the aviation finance group, which counts Alaska Airlines and GE Capital Aviation Services among its key clients. Randal Craft heads the aviation department from New York.

O’Melveny & Myers LLP covers aviation litigation and transactional work, and is instructed by nearly every major US airline, including American Airlines and United Airlines. Bob Siegel, Richard Parker, Matthew Close and Newport Beach-based Andor Terner worked for Alaska Airlines as part of a cross-practice team handling the $4bn acquisition of Virgin America; the group also represented Alaska Airlines in antitrust and labor disputes arising from the acquisition. In a further example of the group’s litigation capabilities, Jonathan Hacker and Ben Bradshaw are representing Airlines for America and the International Air Transport Association in a suit against the US Department of Agriculture, alleging a violation of the Administrative Procedures Act relating to an increase in inspection fees for agricultural pests and diseases on international commercial flights. The team acts for Air Lease Corporation, and completed several financing transactions for the client in 2016, including an amendment and extension to its $3.13bn credit facility. Named individuals are based in Los Angeles or Washington DC.

The aviation litigation team at Arnold & Porter is led by Houston-based Thad Dameris, whose practice extends to product liability and mass tort disputes. The firm represents aerospace giant Airbus Group SE and several of its subsidiaries in a multitude of contentious matters, from large class actions following aircraft crashes to product liability cases. Christopher Odell and David Weiner were on a team that successfully defended Airbus SAS and Airbus Americas in litigation arising from the crash of TAM flight 3054 in which over 200 people perished; the team went on to successfully defend the appeal in the Eleventh Circuit. The firm’s San Francisco-based emerging companies group, led by Ronald Star, also handles some aircraft financing and corporate work.

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Cozen O’Connor’s aviation regulatory lawyers handle the full gamut of compliance matters spanning licensing, enforcement, investigations and sanctions. Having developed expertise in the nascent area of UAS, David Heffernan assisted drone manufacturer CyPhy Works in obtaining expanded authority with the Federal Air Administration (FAA) to operate drones for commercial purposes. With extensive experience in airline acquisitions, the team advised Alaska Airlines on various regulatory issues concerning its acquisition of Virgin America, while Mark Atwood handled the regulatory aspects of Versa Capital Management’s acquisition of Silver Airways, and is currently advising on the post-transaction fitness review before the DOT. The team acts for a multitude of domestic and international carriers, including American Airlines, Emirates Airline and Lufthansa Group. Both named lawyers are based in Washington DC.

Dentons’ aviation group is made up of an internationally focused aviation finance and leasing practice and an active litigation team, with specialized partners in insurance related litigation. In New York, Diane Westwood Wilson’s practice focuses on aviation insurance and product liability, whereby she represents various equipment manufacturers and their insurers in numerous claims arising out of aircraft accidents. Federal Express Legal, Trade and International Affairs is among the litigation department’s notable clients, and Allan Horowitz has defended the client in multiple civil claims brought by the FAA. Other highlights for the team included assisting GA Telesis with equipment on lease to OHSC Transaero Airlines, following restructuring claims by the Russian carrier. Mark Dombroff and counsel Laura Jennings also offer advice on relevant FAA, DOT and Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) regulations. Aviation and litigation partner Dane Jaques joined Steptoe & Johnson LLP in 2016. Since publication, finance partner Elizabeth Evans has joined Reed Smith LLP in New York.

Jones Day’s airlines and aviation industry department is led by an ‘exceptionally bright and knowledgeable litigator’, John Goetz in Pittsburgh, whose practice focuses on large international and domestic aviation-related litigation and UAS. He recently advised West Virginia University on drafting one of the first US policies regarding the use of drones on campus and university-owned property. Fielding ‘large and specialized teams’, the firm handled a wide range of litigation in 2016, including complex product liability cases, antitrust suits and class actions. Bruce McDonald acted for Air China Limited and Air China Cargo, alongside the firm’s Beijing office, in the successful resolution of an antitrust lawsuit following US Department of Justice (DOJ) and European Commission investigations. In a piece of multi-faceted litigation, Philip Douglas successfully defended Garmin International in a multibillion-dollar suit brought by LightSquared alleging, among other claims, breach of contract, and also won a dismissal of a $1.9bn claim brought by Harbinger Capital Partners arising out of LightSquared’s bankruptcy.

The aviation group at Morrison & Foerster LLP is primarily involved in product liability and litigation following aircraft disasters, and also has extensive experience handling various regulatory issues related to airport operation and construction. San Diego-based William O’Connor, who jointly heads the team, represented Honeywell International in multiple wrongful death suits concerning a Learjet 25 accident in Mexico in which seven people perished; he also acted for the aerospace company in an investigation following the crash of Asiana Airlines Flight 214. Additionally, the group was involved in a multitude of UAS-related work in 2016. In one particularly prominent matter, Washington DC-based department co-head Kathryn Thomson, who joined the firm from the DOT, acts as regulatory counsel for Facebook in relation to its Aquila Drone Program, seeking aircraft certification in the US and globally.

Providing ‘a prompt and excellent service’, Reed Smith LLP is experienced in aviation-related litigation, and also handles aviation finance and leasing for financial institutions, airlines and leasing companies. Princeton-based Patrick Bradley leads the aviation litigation group and is representing Cirrus Design Corporation in a $50m claim regarding an aircraft crash that claimed four lives in Texas. United Airlines is another of the group’s major clients, which Oliver Beiersdorf acts for in a range of cases from passenger disruptions and false arrests to personal injury matters. Splitting his time between New York and the Middle East, Donald Moore is one of the key contacts in the aviation finance group; he assisted JetSmarter with its international expansion initiatives and corporate and regulatory issues, and also advised Abu Dhabi National Leasing on restructuring its aircraft financing. Finance partner Vanessa Gage left the firm for Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP, but the litigation group gained two new associates.

The aviation litigation team at Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis LLP exhibits ‘excellent business acumen and industry knowledge’ and has been active in litigation stemming from aircraft accidents, particularly where that has been a loss of life. The ‘persistent and practical’ Robert Williams heads the group from Pittsburgh, and defended AVStar Fuel Systems in product liability, negligence and breach of warranty claims, among others, following the crash of a Cessna 172M aircraft and subsequent death of four people. Denny Shupe and counsel Jonathan Stern represent product manufacturer Esterline and its brand Leach in relation to a large international aircraft disaster, which claimed 154 lives; the team won dismissals of US-based claims at first instance and successfully defended against appeal in the Ninth Circuit. In a show of its international capabilities, the group is continuing to defend the client in civil proceedings in Spain. The firm also defended carriers such as US Airways, American Airlines and Delta Air Lines in numerous injury claims in 2016.

Steptoe & Johnson LLP provides ‘consistently high-quality service’ on regulatory matters and litigation, and further strengthened its aviation team in 2016 with the addition of aviation and energy partner Dane Jaques from Dentons. The department’s clients range from domestic and foreign air carriers, to parts manufacturers and trade associations. In an example of the group’s appellate work, the ‘exceptionally prompt’ Roy Goldberg is currently representing Interjet in the plaintiffs’ appeal in the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, after successfully representing the airline in a putative class action case alleging violation of the federal RICO law. The aviation team works alongside the firm’s regulatory and industry affairs department, where William Karas and Carol Gosain advise TAP Portugal on a litany of aviation-related regulations, such as DOT consumer protection, FAA aircraft operations specifications compliance and tarmac delay and disability regulations. Other notable clients include Southwest Airlines, Japan Airlines, Airlines for America and Amadeus IT. All individuals named are based in Washington DC.

Clients of Kirkland & Ellis LLP’s aviation litigation group include Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and The Boeing Company. In one particularly high-profile case, Chicago-based Michael Slade and Los Angeles-based Michael Baumann, after years of litigation, obtained a ruling of over $500m to be paid to The Boeing Company and Boeing Commercial Space Company, following the failure of a commercial satellite joint venture, Sea Launch. Craig Primis and Matthew Papez are part of a team defending The Boeing Company in separate lawsuits in Illinois and Florida regarding the crash of a National Air Cargo jet and subsequent death of all seven crewmembers; the two Washington DC-based partners are also defending The Boeing Company against claims brought by Alabama Aircraft Industries alleging breach of contract, fraud, unjust enrichment and conversion of intellectual property.

Nixon Peabody LLP’s aviation practice specializes in representing aerospace Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) in litigation involving injury and wrongful death, and has been particularly active in helicopter accidents. The group is headed by Joseph Ortego in New York, who has acted for Airbus Helicopters in a number of lawsuits, and is currently representing the client in multiple claims filed in Texas and Washington regarding the crash of a news helicopter in Seattle. The team also handles appellate litigation, and is representing Deutsche Lufthansa in the Second Circuit following a favorable summary judgment regarding a passenger heart attack. In addition to OEMs, New York-based Eric Strain advises an international air carrier on both regulatory matters and US-facing litigation. Other names to note are William Robinson and Brian Dalrymple, based in Los Angeles and San Francisco respectively.

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