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  1. Transport: aviation and air travel - litigation
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Leading lawyers

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Arnold & Porter is among the premier firms handling litigation arising from catastrophic aircraft crashes. Clients include Airbus and its affiliates, for which the team handles claims relating to fatal crashes; in a recent mandate, Houston-based Thad Dameris represented Airbus in consolidated claims concerning an incident in which more than 100 individuals died. The team has also represented Airbus in personal injury claims regarding exposure to "bleed air", as well as contractual disputes. Christopher Odell (also based in Houston) and Washington DC-based David Weiner also have experience in crash litigation and international arbitration. Other key clients include the Civil Aviation Safety Authority and Piaggio.

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Condon & Forsyth LLP is ‘among the premier firms in the world for aviation liability claims’. Acting primarily for major air carriers, the ‘large and uniquely experienced’ team handles a wide range of aviation disputes, from class action claims arising from flight delay and product liability to catastrophic crash litigation. From the Los Angeles office, Scott Cunningham defended Asiana Airlines and China Airlines in claims by a group of homeowners living beneath a flight path alleging violations of noise limitations and various FAA regulations. New York-based Bart Banino is representing TACA Airlines in numerous multi-jurisdictional claims arising from a crash in which more than 130 people perished. Stephen Stegich and John Maggio are highly recommended contacts in New York and Miami, respectively; Stegich has experience in substantial product liability claims, while Maggio is defending an airline in a culturally sensitive administrative investigation.

Jones Day’s cross-office department has extensive experience of a variety of aviation disputes, including fatal crash litigation. It also handles a range of ADR matters. Pittsburgh-based practice head John Goetz recently represented Hainan Airlines in mediation arising from claims of negligence and breach of contract. Goetz is also representing Chinese Airlines in litigation arising from a mid-air collision at a flight academy. Based in Houston, Bruce McDonald co-led an international team that represented Air China in class action litigation concerning alleged conspiratorial imposition of fuel surcharges on air cargo shipments. Based in Irvine and Cleveland, respectively, John Vogt and Richard Bedell have experience of product liability claims.

Clyde & Co LLP regularly handles product liability and aircraft disaster litigation for airlines, parts manufacturers and insurers. The New York-based Jeffrey Ellis represented Consumer Technology Association and AUVSI, two UAS groups, in a challenge regarding federal pre-emption of drone flight regulation. Ellis is also acting for United Airlines in long-running civil claims arising out of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Other key figures include the San Francisco-based Kevin Sutherland, who represented AIG in litigation arising from a mid-air collision; Andrew Harakas in New York, who has handled crash litigation and passenger injury claims for clients such as Etihad Airways, Japan Airlines and Air China; and the Miami-based Thompson Thornton.

Morrison & Foerster LLP is ‘extremely knowledgeable of the aviation industry’ and is praised for its expertise in product liability claims. The key figure in the firm’s litigation aviation group is San Diego-based William O’Connor, who has extensive experience of the helicopter industry and regulatory investigations. In 2017, O’Connor acted as primary counsel to Amazon Prime Air in relation to liability and emergency response concerns. Additionally, O’Connor has been involved in insurance litigation following a highly-publicized aircraft disaster. The team is also uniquely experienced in acting for and against airport-proprietors, and represented the City of Santa Monica in complex proceedings against the FAA regarding the right of the city to close its airport.

Nixon Peabody LLP’s aviation litigation team ‘combines excellent knowledge of the aviation industry with a deep understanding of the client’s needs’. The group has considerable expertise in helicopter crash litigation and grounding claims. New York-based partners Joseph Ortego and Eric Strain represented Airbus Helicopters in multiple claims regarding the fatal crash of a news helicopter. The team also defended Deutsche Lufthansa in a liability claim regarding a passenger heart attack. San Francisco-based Brian Dalrymple is representing an aircraft operator in a multimillion-dollar aircraft damage claim following an accident, and is also involved in a high-profile fatal crash case.

O'Melveny & Myers LLP has represented the majority of major US airlines in securities and antitrust litigation, personal injury claims and labor and employment disputes. Indeed, Los Angeles-based Robert Siegel has extensive experience of labor and employment issues in the aviation industry and is representing Spirit Airlines in a dispute with its pilots concerning the pilots’ disruption of service during collective bargaining negotiations. In the New York office, Mark Robertson defended American Airlines in a dispute arising from the highly publicized forced removal of a passenger. Ben Bradshaw is a contact in the Washington DC office.

Reed Smith LLP is ‘among the leading firms in aviation litigation, especially in the areas of product liability and personal injury’. Acting primarily for major airlines and aircraft manufacturers, Princeton-based Patrick Bradley is representing an aircraft manufacturer in a litany of personal injury and wrongful death claims. In the New York office, Oliver Beiersdorf has represented a major airline in a variety of disputes, including a passenger dispute alleging, among other grievances, false arrest and negligence at the hands of one of the airline’s contractors. Julia Trankiem joined Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP in 2018.

The team at Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis LLP handles a wide variety of aviation disputes, which in 2017 included major disaster litigation, passenger incidents and UAS-related disputes. The Philadelphia-based Denny Shupe represented a UAS manufacturer in a case concerning the operation of a drone on a US Army fort, and acted alongside Robert Williams (also based in Philadelphia) for an engine manufacturer in multiple fatal crash cases. New York-based Barry Alexander advised a major air carrier on a liability claim following an alleged abduction. Jonathan Stern is a contact in the Washington DC office.

Based in Washington DC, Steptoe & Johnson LLP often appears before key transportation and aviation agencies and has particular expertise in aviation disputes with heavy regulatory aspects. Dane Jaques represented Swissport in various matters, including litigation arising from a ground accident and numerous personal injury claims. David Coburn acted for Amadeus IT in a putative class action regarding alleged uncompetitive practices. William Karas and Carol Gosain represented TAP Portugal in several claims following the forced removal of a group of unruly passengers. Japan Airlines, Travel Technology Association and American Association of Travel Agents are additional clients.

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