Aviation Litigation

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McAfee & Taft trial lawyers have successfully represented clients of all sizes – from individual owners and operators of aircraft to airlines and aircraft manufacturers – in a broad range of disputes and controversies involving the aviation industry. Our collective experience includes representing clients in business and commercial disputes, defending pilots and mechanics in enforcement actions and inquiries brought by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), and defending pilots, mechanics, fixed-base operators and aircraft and aircraft part manufacturers in litigation involving aviation accidents and incidents.

Supported by one of the largest and most experienced FAA aviation groups in the United States, our litigators are also highly skilled in resolving disputes involving the purchase and sale of all sizes and types of aircraft, as well as issues impacting aircraft title and ownership.

Our clients include pilots, mechanics, aircraft owners and lessees, lenders and lessors, fixed-base operators, manufacturers of aircraft and aircraft parts, airlines, service providers, package and shipping companies, insurance companies, flight schools and instructors.

Accident Litigation

Lawsuits resulting from aircraft accidents, especially those involving claims of wrongful death and serious injury, are often highly publicized, emotionally charged, and technically and scientifically complex.  Having represented a significant number of clients in both aircraft and vehicular accident litigation, our lawyers are skilled at navigating these difficult circumstances and have developed specific expertise combing through NTSB and independent crash investigation reports, working with technical and industry experts to understand how certain equipment is designed, manufactured and tested, and pinpointing what other factors may have played a role in the accident.  We are also skilled in deposing and cross-examining other parties’ experts and, when applicable, persuading courts to exclude expert testimony that does not meet Daubert standards.

Transaction Dispute Resolution

Working with the nation’s most robust aircraft title and transactional practice, McAfee & Taft litigators are uniquely equipped to resolve transactions that become contentious and combative.  Our trial lawyers work closely with our transactional team to efficiently and effectively resolve disputes prior to and through litigation, pre- and post-closing.  Furthermore, the aviation litigation team leverages our transactional experience to obtain favorable outcomes in disputed (interpleader) escrow transactions.

Quiet Title

Our aviation litigators represent aircraft owners, lenders and potential buyers in disputes involving the perfection of ownership and security rights, chain of title issues, slander of title claims, and quiet title claims on aircraft.  By leveraging our extensive aircraft title practice experience, McAfee & Taft has a consistent track record of successfully resolving clouds on title which often impede the sale or payment of insurance claims on commercial, corporate and small aircraft.

Representation of Airmen, Owners and Operators before the NTSB and FAA

Having a legal team that includes active pilots, McAfee & Taft is equipped to uniquely understand the issues facing airmen and operators.  Our experience includes representing airman, aircraft owners and operators in enforcement and aircraft detention actions brought by the FAA in relation to the transportation of hazardous materials, airman certification, aircraft ownership, and aircraft registration.  Additionally, the McAfee & Taft team routinely advises clients on regulatory requirements related to obtaining and maintaining airman medical certificates.  While legal action is not always the first step in resolving an administrative dispute with the FAA, our team understands how to build a client’s case so that the client is in the best possible position should legal action become necessary.

Representative Experience

  • Successfully defended an aviation fixed-based operator in a five-day jury trial on claims of breach of bailment contract, breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and punitive damages.
  • Obtained summary judgment on behalf of an employer and owner of general aviation aircraft in a wrongful death case arising from an aircraft crash.  Judgment affirmed on appeal to the Oklahoma Supreme Court. Price vs. Howard, 236 P.3d 82 (Okla. 2010).
  • Obtained summary judgment on behalf of an aircraft engine service facility in a contract and negligence case arising from a crash that resulted in total loss of an aircraft.
  • Obtained favorable resolution on behalf of the owner/operator of an aircraft in a wrongful death case concerning an accident that resulted in the death of five people.
  • Obtained favorable resolutions on behalf of airlines and airline service providers against claims of premises liability and negligence in personal injury actions.
  • Obtained favorable resolution for an employer in an action for wrongful death and serious injury brought by its employees under Parret resulting from a helicopter crash.
  • Obtained directed verdict at jury trial on behalf of a fixed-based operator in a breach of contract action, which disposed of the plaintiff’s tort claims.
  • Obtained $1.5 million judgment, plus attorney fees and discovery sanctions in excess of $900,000, on behalf of the corporate owner of an aircraft in a lawsuit alleging the defendants violated several commercial aircraft management agreements and unsuccessfully attempted to conceal those violations, resulting in claims for breach of contract, unjust enrichment, and violations of the Oklahoma Consumer Protection Act.
  • Obtained dismissal of an action for failure to diligently prosecute and timely serve on behalf of an airline client. Affirmed on appeal. Morris vs. City of Oklahoma City, 232 P.3d 921 (Okla. Civ. App. 2010).
  • Successfully defended instructor pilot and flight school in 13-day wrongful death jury trial.
  • Obtained $1.5 million judgment, plus attorney fees and discovery sanctions in excess of $900,000, on behalf of the corporate owner of an aircraft in a lawsuit alleging the defendants violated several commercial aircraft management agreements and unsuccessfully attempted to conceal those violations, resulting in claims for breach of contract, unjust enrichment, and violations of the Oklahoma Consumer Protection Act.
  • Negotiated favorable settlement for the seller of an Agusta helicopter in a lawsuit arising from failed back-to-back transactions.
  • Successfully represented buyers and sellers in interpleader actions arising out of failed aircraft purchase and sale agreements over entitlement to funds deposited in escrow.
  • Successfully represented multiple aircraft owners in quiet title actions to clear disputed ownership and/or lien claims.
  • Successfully negotiated the release and termination of improper fuel liens placed on aircraft.
  • Successfully negotiated the return of pilot’s medical certificate following FAA enforcement action.
  • Secured the release of an aircraft that had been seized by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and later worked with the FAA’s enforcement division to reinstate the aircraft’s registration.
  • Resolved a chain of title dispute involving a Grob G520 Egrett high-altitude reconnaissance and surveillance aircraft, ultimately resulting in timely registration with the FAA.
mt_pa_team
Brian A. Burget
Shareholder
(405) 552-2205
John R. Chubbuck
Of Counsel
(405) 552-2335
Bradley K. Donnell
Shareholder
(405) 552-2308
Henry D. Hoss
Shareholder, Director
(405) 552-2245