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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.

News & Events

Baker Sterchi Cowden & Rice Promotes John Patterson to Member

01.11.18 | Baker Sterchi Cowden & Rice is pleased to announce the promotion of John Patterson to Member effective January 1, 2018. Patterson practices in the areas of product liability, employment, construction/fidelity and surety, financial services litigation, premises liability...


BSCR Obtains No-Payment Dismissal in Wrongful Death Plane Crash for Aircraft Component Part Manufacturer

In this Lawrence County, Missouri wrongful death airplane crash action, plaintiff’s allegations of failure to warn, breach of express warranty and breach of implied warranty against our aircraft component part manufacturing client were rejected by the court in favor of BSCR’s argument that the statute of limitations had expired and plaintiff had failed to state a claim, resulting in a no-payment dismissal of the action.

BSCR Obtains Summary Judgment on Behalf of County Government in Claim Involving Helicopter

In this St. Louis City action, plaintiff’s decedent was killed in a motor vehicle accident when a stolen vehicle collided into decedent’s vehicle. Plaintiff alleged that the driver of the vehicle was being pursued by police at the time of the crash, including a county helicopter operated by a pilot officer. BSCR obtained ...

No-Payment Dismissal Obtained for Component Part Client in Wrongful Death Plane Crash Action

In this Western District of Missouri product liability wrongful death action involving a plane crash in Australia with 14 fatalities, a third-party action for contribution was filed against our component part manufacturing client by one of the defendants to the action. Upon that defendant’s settlement with plaintiff, BSCR secured ...

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

Got A Product Problem? Go To The Origin.

05.19.20 | On March 11, 2020, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit affirmed an Eastern District of Missouri judgment, finding that the Plaintiff failed to establish that a product was inherently defective or dangerous, where he had failed to provide evidence of when a product entered the stream of commerce.

Employees Aggrieved Out-of-State Cannot Sue Missouri-based Employers under the Missouri Human Rights Act.

03.11.20 | Missouri Supreme Court held the Missouri Human Rights Act is not a remedy for out-of-state employees aggrieved by discriminatory practices of Missouri-headquartered companies.

Kansas City Area Saw Increase in Defense Verdicts in 2019, According to Annual Jury Data

03.02.20 | The data is out on Kansas City area jury verdicts for calendar year 2019, and it contains mostly good news for defendants. While the total number of jury verdicts was up slightly from 2018, the percentage of those verdicts in plaintiffs' favor was down, with nearly 60% of claims that went to a jury ending in a defense verdict. 2019 also saw a drop of almost 30% in the number of verdicts over $1 million. Although the data shows a rise in the average verdict amount, that increase is entirely attributable to a single mega verdict of more than $100 million; controlling for that outlier, the size of the average award was also down significantly.

Illinois First District Appellate Court upholds $4.8 million asbestos verdict against John Crane.

02.20.20 | Is your client or company sued in asbestos litigation in Illinois? If so, does it argue, as many defendants in asbestos litigation do, that plaintiffs' expert witnesses should be prohibited from testifying that any exposure to a defendant's asbestos-containing products is a substantial contributing factor to the development of mesothelioma and that pre-trial settlement amounts must be disclosed prior to trial? If this describes your client or company, the recent opinion in Daniels v. John Crane, Inc. is likely going to disappoint.

Illinois First District Appellate Court upholds $4.8 million asbestos verdict against John Crane.

02.20.20 | Is your client or company sued in asbestos litigation in Illinois? If so, does it argue, as many defendants in asbestos litigation do, that plaintiffs' expert witnesses should be prohibited from testifying that any exposure to a defendant's asbestos-containing products is a substantial contributing factor to the development of mesothelioma and that pre-trial settlement amounts must be disclosed prior to trial? If this describes your client or company, the recent opinion in Daniels v. John Crane, Inc. is likely going to disappoint.

Federal Aviation Administration Certifies UPS to Become First-ever Drone Airline.

11.07.19 | FAA waives multiple restrictions permitting UPS to fly unlimited number of remote unmanned aircraft 24 hours a day by the most expansive Part 135 Certificate of Waiver ever issued.

Arbitration Agreements 101: they require - you guessed it - agreement.

09.13.19 | Though seemingly obvious, the Eighth Circuit affirmed arbitration agreements are not immune to contract law basics when it denied an employer's motion to compel arbitration for lack of acceptance.

Second Update: Hopping On The Missouri Bandwagon? Not So Fast Out Of State Litigants.

07.16.19 | SECOND UPDATE: Missouri Governor Mike Parson signs Senate Bill 7, which amends venue and joinder laws, to prevent out of state plaintiffs from litigating their cases in an inappropriate venue.

Update: Hopping on the Missouri Bandwagon? Not so Fast Out-of-State Litigants.

05.20.19 | UPDATE: House Passes Senate Bill 7, in which the Missouri legislature seeks to amend venue and joinder laws, to prevent out of state plaintiffs from litigating their cases in an inappropriate venue.

Hopping on the Missouri Bandwagon? Not so Fast Out-of-State Litigants.

03.18.19 | In Senate Bill 7, the Missouri legislature seeks to amend venue and joinder laws, to prevent out of state plaintiffs from litigating their cases in an inappropriate venue.

When it Comes to Nonconforming Goods, is the Customer Always Right?

01.23.19 | Applying Missouri Law, the Eighth Circuit confirms that when a company guarantees customer satisfaction, only to leave the customer unsatisfied, it risks not only its business reputation, but also its legal right to collect payment.

City of St. Louis - Still A Judicial Hellhole

12.26.18 | Defense attorneys beware. The 2018-2019 American Tort Reform Foundation's (ATRF) Judicial Hellholes Report is out, and the City of St. Louis landed fourth on this list because of its massive verdicts, forum shopping, and legislative failures.

Federal Preemption Doesn't Bar Railroad's Suit Against Locomotive Seat Manufacturer

08.24.18 | The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals recently held that a railroad's products liability and breach of contract claims that were based on federally-imposed standards of care are not preempted. BNSF Railway Co. v. Seats, Inc., (No. 17-1399, 8th Cir. 2018).

ANTI-FORUM SHOPPING: Limitation on Joinder in Missouri on the Horizon

06.18.18 | The Missouri Legislature introduced bills during its most recent legislative session to curtail forum shopping of class action plaintiffs in Missouri. This anti-forum shopping legislation, while not ultimately enacted into law, would have limited out-of-state plaintiffs from joining lawsuits involving local claims against out-of-state defendants.

It's not a bird or a plane... So what do we do with it? Concerns and regulations increase as drone usage skyrockets.

12.20.17 | This month, President Trump signed the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act into law, which extends certain requirements to those using model UASs. Although previously exempted from the registration requirement of Part 107, drone hobbyists will be required to provide their name and contact information to the FAA, as well as pay a small fee, to be legally compliant when operating their drones.

Gender Stereotypes Now Serve as a Basis for Sex Discrimination Claim under the MHRA

12.18.17 | Despite an uptick in advocacy, support, and inclusion of the LGTBQ community over the past several decades, as of today, discrimination based on sexual orientation remains an invalid claim under the Missouri Human Rights Act (“MHRA”). However, in a recent decision by the Western District of the Missouri Court of Appeals...

Court of Appeals Affirms that At-Will Employment Is Not Sufficient Consideration for an Arbitration Agreement, Refuses to Change Law

12.14.17 | The Missouri Court of Appeals for the Southern District upholds denial of an employer's motion to compel arbitration ruling that at-will employment is insufficient consideration to support an arbitration agreement and denying employer's request to find that, in accordance with federal policy, at-will employment should be sufficient consideration for an arbitration agreement.

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 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.

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