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Baker Sterchi Cowden & Rice LLC has extensive experience providing legal services to domestic and foreign participants in the aerospace industry. Our attorneys have successfully represented general aviation manufacturers, commercial airlines, fixed base operators, component part manufacturers, airports, and others. We have extensive experience in the defense of product liability matters, personal injury, employment, insurance and premises liability, among others. We have been directly involved in state and federal litigation across the nation arising from domestic and foreign accidents.

Our experience spans several decades and includes the successful trial to verdict of numerous aviation cases. Several of our attorneys have specific aviation experience and have handled a broad range of cases, from the minor to the catastrophic. We run a flexible practice with an emphasis on efficiently assessing our clients’ needs in each case and establishing a creative course of action.

The aerospace matters we have handled include:

Air Carriers

  • Litigation arising from bomb incident on commercial aircraft near Athens, Greece
  • Litigation arising from the crash of commercial airliner near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Consolidated federal litigation against aircraft cart manufacturers
  • Numerous personal injury claims filed by commercial airline passengers
  • Wrongful death claims arising from airport incidents
  • Commercial disputes between operators and repair facilities

General Aviation

  • Domestic and foreign aircraft crashes (including Australia, Botswana, Canada, Chile, France & Russia)
  • Aircraft crashes due to in-flight breakup incidents of single-engine aircraft (Cessna 210s, Piper PA 28s, Piper PA 32s, Piper Malibus, etc.)
  • Helicopter crashes due to alleged airframe failures
  • Helicopter crashes due to engine failures
  • Aircraft crashes due to alleged aircraft and system design defects, engine failures, fuel contamination,, and avionics/autopilot anomalies

Airport Premises Liability

  • Personal injury claims of airline employees
  • Personal injury claims of passengers injured in airports
  • Employment cases

Insurance Policy Coverage

  • Handling of declaratory judgment actions to determine coverage issues
  • Policy review and opinion

Commercial Disputes

For more information about the services we provide to the Aerospace industry contact  John Cowden at 816.448.9347 or Eric Cunningham at 816.448.9359.

Results

Dismissal Obtained for Component Part Manufacturer in Commercial Airline Crash Case

In this action, survivors of a commercial airline crash in Chile filed numerous claims in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas for physical and emotional damages alleging the crash was caused by a defective deicing system. BSCR obtained a dismissal of all claims against our client, a deicing component part manufacturer, following minimal discovery and mediation with no payment by our client.

BSCR Procures Dismissal for Component Part Manufacturer in Airplane Crash Case

BSCR successfully procured the dismissal of our component part manufacturing client in an action involving claimed defects in a component part allegedly causing the crash of a single engine aircraft and death of the pilot. The no-payment dismissal was procured by BSCR in this Rutherford County, Tennessee case prior to the close of discovery.

Favorable Settlement Negotiated on Behalf of International Airport in Premises Liability Case

BSCR negotiated a favorable settlement on behalf of our client, an international airport, in an action filed in Platte County, Missouri in which plaintiff, an airline passenger, alleged injuries sustained due to dangerous property conditions at the airport.

Dismissal Obtained for Component Part Manufacturer in Airplane Crash Case

In this Baltimore County, Maryland action plaintiffs alleged an avionics product caused the crash of a single engine aircraft resulting in multiple deaths. BSCR obtained a no payment dismissal of all claims against our client, an aircraft component part manufacturer, before the close of discovery.

BSCR Achieves Favorable Settlement for Part Manufacturer in Wrongful Death Plane Crash Action

A favorable settlement was achieved for our client in a wrongful death plane crash action filed in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas. Plaintiffs alleged a defective deicing system caused a crash near Moscow, Russia resulting in multiple deaths. . .

Favorable Settlement Negotiated for Engine Manufacturing Client in Wrongful Death Plane Crash Case

A favorable settlement was obtained in a Franklin County, Missouri case involving wrongful deaths due to an airplane crash alleged to have been caused by engine failure on takeoff. Although a multi-million dollar jury verdict was entered, the claims against our aircraft engine manufacturing client were dismissed before trial due to the successful negotiation of a settlement for a nominal payment by our client.

BSCR Secures Defense Verdict on Behalf of Commercial Airline in Discrimination Case

BSCR obtained a jury verdict on behalf of a commercial airline in a discrimination case filed in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas. Plaintiffs, two passengers on the flight, filed discrimination claims against our client for statements made by a flight attendant. . .

No-Payment Dismissal of Claims Secured for Product Supplier in Wrongful Death Jet Crash

BSCR secured dismissal of our client, a hydraulics system product supplier, in a case in which plaintiffs sued multiple parties alleging mechanical defects in the hydraulic system of a jet airliner causing the crash and death of all passengers and crewmembers. The case, filed in Cook County, Illinois, included mechanical, electrical and hydraulic engineering issues. . .

Favorable Settlement Obtained on Behalf of Component Part Manufacturer in Helicopter Crash Case

BSCR obtained a favorable settlement on behalf of a helicopter part manufacturer in a case filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri in which plaintiff alleged a defectively designed helicopter component part resulted in the crash of a medical emergency helicopter. BSCR's defense of the case was based on pilot error due to flying in foggy conditions.

Summary Judgment Obtained on Behalf of Life Flight Medical Service Provider in Helicopter Crash Case

BSCR's defense of a life flight medical service provider in a Jackson County, Missouri action resulted in summary judgment for our client. In this action, plaintiff alleged a defective turbine engine in a helicopter caused the helicopter to crash during a medical emergency evacuation. After extensive discovery, including document production in France, summary judgment was entered on behalf of our client. . .

Blog Posts

Whistles Here, Whistles There, Whistles Everywhere - 8th Circuit Allows Airline Whistleblower to Proceed with State Law Wrongful Discharge Claim

10.03.17 | In Watson v. Air Methods Corp., No. 15-1900 (8th Cir. en banc, Aug. 31, 2017), the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed its own precedent and held that a former employee may bring a state law wrongful discharge claim against an “air carrier,” notwithstanding the pre-emption provision contained in the Airline Deregulation Act (“ADA”).

You've Got Mail - Service of Process by Mail is Satisfactory under the Hague Service Convention

05.30.17 | The United States Supreme Court ruled on May 22, 2017, that the Hague Convention, on the service of judicial documents abroad, permits service by mail if the receiving country has not objected to service by mail and service by mail is authorized under otherwise-applicable law.

Court Muzzles Counsel: Says Defendants Cannot Ask Plaintiffs if Their Attorneys Referred Them to Treating Physicians

04.27.17 | The Florida Supreme Court recently ruled that the attorney-client privilege protects a party from being required to disclose that her attorney referred her to treating doctors.

The Daubert Standard - Coming Soon to a Missouri Court Near You

03.31.17 | Earlier this week, Governor Eric Greitens signed Missouri HB 153 into law. HB 153, which supplants Missouri’s existing expert witness standard with that set forth in Federal Rules of Evidence 702, 703, 704 and 705, effectively submits expert testimony in most civil and criminal case to the analysis set forth in Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993).

Federal Judges Blow Their Stacks Over Boilerplate Objections

03.27.17 | Within a two-week period, two federal judges issued strongly worded orders denouncing the common practice of asserting boilerplate objections to written discovery.

Employees: Yes, You Can Owe Duties To Your Co-Employees

03.22.17 | The Missouri Court of Appeals rules that a worker may owe an independent duty of care to a co-worker, which is separate and distinct from her employer’s non-delegable duties.

Mere Designation of an Expert Witness Does Not Waive the Work Product Doctrine Protections

11.02.16 | A Missouri plaintiff did not irrevocably waive the protections of the work product doctrine simply by designating an expert witness and then withdrawing the designation without disclosing the expert’s analysis or conclusions.

Careful with those gifts, Santa. The FAA is coming to town!

08.29.16 | Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Rule, Part 107, takes effect Monday, August 29, 2016.

Constructive Discharge Claims: When Does the 45-Day Period for Initiating Contact with the EEOC Begin to Run?

06.08.16 | On May 23, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court decided the case of Green v. Brennan in order to resolve a split among the Circuits on whether, in an action for constructive discharge, the 45-day limitation period for the employee to initiate contact with the EEOC begins to run after the employer’s last discriminatory act, or at the time of the employee’s resignation.

Sikkelee v. Precision Airmotive Corporation: Another Nail in the Coffin of Field Preemption for Aviation Product Liability Claims

05.03.16 | In Sikkelee v. Precision Airmotive Corporation, the Third Circuit issued a sweeping decision that field preemption is not applicable to aviation-related products liability claims. While conflict preemption is still viable in cases where it is physically impossible to comply with the type certificate and state law, manufacturers should expect to remain subjected to the patchwork of various state product liability standards for the foreseeable future.

Article 29 of the Montreal Convention: How Important is Location?

04.18.16 | The Montreal Convention, a treaty which became effective in the United States on November 4, 2003, governs the rights and liabilities of international air carriers and passengers. Among its more important provisions, Article 29 of the Montreal Convention states that...

FAA's New On-Line Registration Process to Streamline the Registration of Unmanned Aircraft Being Operated for Non-Recreational Process

01.14.16 | Much of the attention of the FAA’s recently promulgated Interim Federal Rule (“IFR”) 80 FR 78593, has focused on the FAA’s requirement that all unmanned aircraft (commonly referred to as “drones”) be registered with the federal government. Lost amongst the media’s coverage on the effect the new rule will have on recreational unmanned aircraft users, are...

"Excusable neglect" is a real standard requiring real evidence (Updated 01.04.2016)

01.04.16 | While a Kansas court may grant relief from a final judgment based on excusable neglect, it is an abuse of discretion to grant that relief when the party seeking that relief has failed either to explain what facts constituted excusable neglect or to provide any evidence to support that claim.

Aviation Safety: Public Protection vs. Patient Confidentiality

08.31.15 | Since Germanwings pilot Andreas Lubitz deliberately crashed Flight 4U9525 into the French Alps on March 24, 2015, killing himself and all 149 others on board, a spotlight has been cast on the world of mental health screening for pilots,...

Montreal Convention Developments: Accident While Walking to Customs Does Not Satisfy Requirement of Occurrence During Operations of Disembarking

08.28.15 | The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana rules that, after disembarking from an aircraft, where there is no evidence of airline control over a passenger walking to customs in a corridor of the terminal, the plaintiff passenger fails to establish the “disembarking” element for tort claims against airlines pursuant to the Montreal Convention, Article 17(1).

Proposed Bill Would Eliminate Third-Class Medical Requirement for Some Private and Recreational Flights

08.10.15 | Currently pending before Congress is a bill that could streamline or eliminate medical requirements for private and recreational pilots in limited situations.

Glass Panel Regs to Get Smaller? FAR 25 Design Standards Trending to Part 23?

06.01.15 | Airworthiness standards currently applicable to transport airplanes under FAR Part 25 may soon be made applicable to lighter airplanes governed by FAR Part 23.

FAA's proposed rules for small commercial drones

05.15.15 | The FAA announced its proposed rules for small commercial drones (small unmanned aircraft/aerial systems “UAS”). See Small UAS NPRM (available at www.faa.gov) in February 2015. While the proposed rules are more lenient than many in the industry had anticipated, they are still stringent enough to prevent the use of UAS in many of the ways envisioned by some commercial entities.

The Eighth Circuit Provides Clarity on Outside Sales Exemption and Waiver Requirements under FLSA

04.01.15 | The Eighth Circuit recently analyzed the application of the “outside sales” and “administrative” exemptions under the Fair Labor Standards Act in the context of promotional workers. Also, the Court was asked to decide, for the first time, what constitutes a valid waiver of an employee’s rights under the FLSA.

The Supreme Court's Jurisdictional Stretch in Resolving the Evidence Needed to Support a CAFA Removal

01.06.15 | A defendant removing a case to federal court under the Class Action Fairness Act need not provide evidence proving the jurisdictional amount in controversy in the notice of removal. A “short and plain statement of the grounds for removal” is sufficient.

The Missouri Supreme Court Rules That Parties May Have a Duty as a Joint Employer With Its Contractors Pursuant to the Missouri Minimum Wage Law

09.19.14 | Individuals and businesses relying upon contractors to provide labor services may be exposing themselves to liability if these contractors fail to pay their employees in accordance with the Missouri Minimum Wage Law.

Frying the Frye Test and Increasing the Caps: New Amendments to Kansas Civil Actions and Civil Procedure

07.11.14 | K.S.A. 60-19a02 has been amended, increasing Kansas's long-standing cap on non-economic damages (pain and suffering) recoverable in personal injury. K.S.A. 60-456(b) has also been amended to mirror the requirements for the admissibility of expert testimony set forth in Fed. R. Evid. 702.

In a differential etiology, experts need not rule out all possible causes

06.23.14 | Experts are not required to rule out all possible causes when performing the differential etiology analysis if the experts have properly ruled in the alleged cause.

Punitive Damages Part 1: Don't Get Caught Flat-Footed

04.29.14 | A Kansas plaintiff may amend their pleadings to assert punitive damages up until the day of the pretrial conference.

Kansas abolishes assumption of the risk defense.

04.21.14 | Based on its adoption of a statutory scheme of comparative negligence, Kansas has abolished common law assumption of the risk as a bar to recovery. Simmons v. Porter, 298 Kan. 299, 312 P3d 345, 355 (Kan. 2013).

A mundane lesson from an important decision, or, the importance of presenting evidence

03.20.14 | The plaintiff has the burden of proving standing, which is a jurisdictional issue that can be raised at any time.