As co-chair of the Aviation group, Mr. Stern brings to his clients an abundance of legal experience and industry knowledge. He holds commercial pilot, advanced and instrument ground instructor, and control tower operator certificates and has worked as an aviation research analyst, flight instructor and air traffic controller.
A trial attorney with more than 26 years of experience representing airlines, aerospace manufacturers, aerospace insurers, airmen, and other businesses and individuals, Mr. Stern handles a variety of product defect, premises liability, personal injury, negligence and civil rights cases. He counsels clients on difficult insurance coverage and claims handling issues and conducts internal corporate investigations.
Mr. Stern is currently lead counsel for the owner of a corporate jet hangaring facility that collapsed under a major snowfall in Washington in 2010 and for the State of Maryland in the case of a State Police-operated medevac helicopter that crashed while on approach to Andrews AFB. In the areas of insurance coverage and claims handling, Mr. Stern has been called on by aerospace insurers to provide guidance with respect to many of the headline-making events of the day, including the 9/11 attacks on America, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the crash of Air France Flight 447 while enroute from Rio de Janeiro to Paris, and the mid-air collision over the Hudson River of a single-engine airplane and a helicopter carrying tourists.
Mr. Stern is a frequent guest speaker and prolific author of articles and books on aviation and the law. In addition, he focuses his pro bono efforts on the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project. As a member of the Project's Screening Committee, he reviews claims of actual innocence by incarcerated persons.
Areas Of Experience
· Represented a variety of aircraft and aircraft component manufacturers, including in Jacoby v. Columbia Aircraft Manufacturing Corp., No. 1:07cv350 (LMB/TCB) (E.D. Va.), In re Air Crash at Madrid, Spain, 2:10-ML-02135-GAF, 2011 WL 2183972 (C.D. Cal. May 16, 2011) (involving forum non conveniens dismissal), In re Air Crash Over the Mid-Atlantic on June 1, 2009, 792 F. Supp. 2d 1090 (N.D. Ca. 2011) (involving forum non conveniens dismissal), and Hemme v. Airbus SAS, No. 09 C 7239, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 31920, 2010 WL 1416468 (N.D. Ill. 2010) (involving motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim on which relief can be granted). Represented the designer of a thrust reverser for a hush kit for DC-8 airplanes, obtaining a defense verdict, a counterclaim recovery, and upholding both on an appeal predicated on the allegedly improper admission of testimony of an aerodynamicist in Quiet Technology DC-8, Inc. v. Hurel Dubois UK, Ltd., 326 F.3d 1333 (11th Cir. 2003).
· Regularly defends airlines in personal injury and civil rights cases, such as Qayyum v. US Airways, Inc., No. 3:08-0996, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 92365, 2008 WL 4879401 (S.D. W. Va. 2008) (involving motion to dismiss various claims of civil rights violations), and Metts v. Airtran Airways, Inc., CIV.A. DKC 10-0466, 2010 WL 4183020 (D. Md. Oct. 22, 2010) (involving late disclosure of experts). In Elassaad v. Independence Air, Inc., 604 F.3d 804 (3d Cir. 2010), limits were placed on the extent of federal preemption of air safety, but Mr. Stern tried the case on remand and won a defense verdict and judgment.
· Handled a variety of unusual aviation cases that have tested the limits of the court's subject matter jurisdiction, justiciability, venue and patience. For example, Sullivan v. Gen. Helicopters, Int'l, 564 F. Supp. 2d 496 (D. Md. 2008), explored the federal court's admiralty jurisdiction. McMahon v. Presidential Airways, Inc., 410 F. Supp. 2d 1189 (M.D. Fla. 2006), tested the limits of removal jurisdiction for a defense contractor claiming to have acted under a federal officer in crashing an airplane in Afghanistan. In Yanez v. Am. W. Airlines, Inc., 2004 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 20706, 2004 WL 2434725 (D. Md. Oct. 13, 2004), Mr. Stern was successful in having a plaintiff's complaint dismissed as a sanction for fraud on the court. In Rogers v. Civil Air Patrol, 129 F. Supp. 2d 1334 (M.D. Ala. 2001), Mr. Stern successfully challenged venue laid in Alabama where his client, the Civil Air Patrol, was headquartered, because the plaintiff also had sued the Secretary of the Air Force.
· Regularly represents aerospace insurers in cutting-edge cases, often working behind-the-scenes to keep clients out of harm's way. Some of the cases that have gone to court include S. Air, Inc., v. Chartis Aerospace Adjustment Services, Inc., 3:11CV1495 JBA, 2012 WL 162369 (D. Conn. Jan. 18, 2012), in which the court upheld the removal to federal court of a Connecticut statutory proceeding to compel an insurance appraisal that provided only for a state court forum. In Hercules v. AIG Aviation, Inc., 776 A.2d 550 (Del. Super.), aff'd, 760 A.2d 162 (Del.2000), won summary judgment on behalf of a group of aviation product insurers sued for coverage of a False Claims Act case the insured had settled for $55 million. In Old Republic Insurance Company v. Gormley, 77 F. Supp. 2d 705 (D. Md. 1999), the court granted summary judgment on behalf of the client because the pilot of a helicopter that crashed did not meet the minimum flight time requirements of the policy.
· Defense Research Institute (DRI) Aerospace Law Committee, chair, 2002 - 2004
· DRI Public Policy Committee, member, 2004 - 2006
· American Bar Association, member 1987 - present; editor or co-editor, Aviation Litigation Quarterly, 1997-2007
· American Bar Association, co-chair 2008 Aviation Litigation program
· Named as a 'Washington, D.C. Super Lawyer' for aviation, 2013
· Recognized by Chambers USA for nationwide aviation litigation, 2012-2013
· Named as a one of 'Washington DC & Baltimore's Top Rated Lawyers,' Martindale-Hubbell, 2012
· Rated AV® Preeminent™ by Martindale-Hubbell®
· Named as a 'Washington, D.C. Super Lawyer' in the areas of insurance coverage, civil litigation defense, and aviation, 2007-2010
· Named as a 'Washington, D.C. Super Lawyer - Corporate Counsel' in the area of insurance coverage, 2010
· National Law Journal "Defense Win of the Month," May 2002
· Attained an AV rating by Martindale-Hubbell