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:
- 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
- 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
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.
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.
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 ...
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 ...
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 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.
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.
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.
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. . .
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 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. . .
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. . .
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.
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. . .
| 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.
| 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...
| 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.
| 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").
| 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.
| 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.
| 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).
| Within a two-week period, two federal judges issued strongly worded orders denouncing the common practice of asserting boilerplate objections to written discovery.
| 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.
| 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.
| Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Rule, Part 107, takes effect Monday, August 29, 2016.
| 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.
| 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.
| 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...
| 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...
| 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.
| 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,...
| 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).
| Currently pending before Congress is a bill that could streamline or eliminate medical requirements for private and recreational pilots in limited situations.
| Airworthiness standards currently applicable to transport airplanes under FAR Part 25 may soon be made applicable to lighter airplanes governed by FAR Part 23.
| 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 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.
| 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.
| 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.
| 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.
| 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.
| A Kansas plaintiff may amend their pleadings to assert punitive damages up until the day of the pretrial conference.
| 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).
| The plaintiff has the burden of proving standing, which is a jurisdictional issue that can be raised at any time.