Practice Areas & Industries: Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis LLP


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Practice/Industry Group Overview

Schnader’s Aviation Group consistently is ranked by independent agencies among the nation’s preeminent aviation law practices. We have decades of experience representing many of the world’s leading manufacturers of commercial, general aviation and military aircraft, engines and components, as well as Part 135 operators, Part 145 repair stations, airports, corporate aviation departments, domestic and international airlines and domestic and global aviation insurers.

Our aviation attorneys reside in five cities on the East and West Coasts of the United States, which allows us regularly to litigate cases in state and federal courts throughout the country. With decades of military and civilian aviation industry experience outside of the law, our lawyers are intimately familiar with industry developments and requirements, and hold prominent leadership roles in the national aviation bar. Our adversaries know that our Aviation Group, which boasts members of the invitation-only International Academy of Trial Lawyers and American College of Trial Lawyers, will not hesitate to try a case when necessary, often allowing us to obtain favorable results without trial. Combining these capabilities with one of the most respected appellate practices in the United States gives Schnader the unique capability to handle all aspects of a case’s life cycle, and positions us as a go-to firm to address the most challenging issues of the developing law of aviation for clients worldwide. It is not surprising that our clients retain us to represent them all over the United States, not just in the jurisdictions in which our attorneys reside.

Real world experience forms the foundation of our practice.
Members of our group include two former Air Force pilots and a current Air Force Reserve Instructor Pilot, all three with substantial international flight experience, an instrument-rated private pilot, FAA-licensed commercial pilots, as well as an aviation consultant, flight instructor, ground instructor and former air traffic controller. This aviation industry knowledge, combined with our national trial and appellate experience, gives Schnader the capability to efficiently litigate high-profile, complex cases.

International Recognition
Schnader’s Aviation Group has been ranked among the top firms in Aviation: Litigation Nationwide by Chambers USA. Client remarks gathered by Chambers include, “Outstanding. They are trusted to deliver excellence.” The Legal 500 US ranked Schnader among the top firms nationwide for Product Liability and Mass Tort Defense: Aerospace/Aviation, noting Schnader “attracts praise for its ‘excellent industry knowledge, advice and responsiveness’ and stand-out trial and appellate practice.”

Legal Media Group's Expert Guides named five of our partners (resident in our New York, Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C. and San Francisco offices) to its directory of the top aviation lawyers in the world, and one of our partners to its Product Liability Litigation list. Two of our partners are listed in the International Who’s Who of Aviation Lawyers, and two are listed by Best Lawyers in America in Aviation Law and Product Liability Litigation. Within the ranks of our group are two Fellows of the American College of Trial Lawyers, one Fellow of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers, and one member of the International Association of Defense Counsel.

Leaders in the aviation bar
Three Schnader aviation partners have held the post of National Chair of the DRI Aviation Law Committee, as well as other prominent positions within DRI. We also have held leadership positions in the ABA; one of our partners edited the Aviation Litigation Quarterly newsletter for ten years. Another partner serves on the Legal Technical Committee of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. We frequently are called upon to speak at high-profile aviation venues, including IATA conferences, the SMU Air Law Symposium, the ACI Aviation Law Conference, the Aviation Insurance Association Annual Meeting, Air Law Institute Symposium, American Bar Association meetings, DRI annual and practice area conferences, the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Air Law & Insurance Symposium, and the McGill Conference on International Aviation Liability and Insurance.

Below is a brief summary of some of the major areas in which Schnader's aviation team provides legal and consulting services:

Aviation Litigation
We have advised multiple manufacturing clients in high profile and multi-district litigation arising out of foreign airline disasters, including the Swissair 111 crash into the Atlantic Ocean near Nova Scotia, the Spanair 5022 crash in Madrid, the Air France 447 crash into the Atlantic Ocean, the Gol Airlines 1907 midair collision over the Amazon jungle, the AirAsia 8501 crash into the Java Sea, and the Flash Airlines 604 crash into the Red Sea. We also have advised on military aircraft accidents, including the crash of an Army Air National Guard helicopter and a military helicopter crash in Iraq. On behalf of airlines and aircraft, engine and component manufacturers, we regularly litigate matters involving aircraft accidents and incidents, aircraft purchases/leases, and commercial actions related to aircraft engines and component parts. We also defend airlines in connection with wrongful death and personal injury actions, as well as delay and baggage claims.

Aviation Insurance
We counsel the world’s leading issuers of aerospace insurance, and litigate disputes when they cannot be resolved informally. We have provided guidance to aerospace insurers on matters in the air, outer space, and the sea, including the 9/11 attacks, the Deepwater Horizon disaster, and satellite-in-orbit failures.

We brief and argue appellate cases for numerous aviation and insurance clients in state and federal courts throughout the country, and are retained to handle appeals even where we were not counsel of record in the underlying action. We often are called upon to draft amicus briefs on some of the most important issues facing the aviation industry.

Air cargo claims
With one of the country’s most knowledgeable attorneys on cargo law within our ranks, evidenced by IATA's decision to call upon him to conduct cargo claims and liability training for air carriers, ground handlers and other entities on its behalf, we are among the leading law firms with regard to the handling of domestic and international cargo law claims.

Regulatory Matters
We counsel and assist a wide variety of individual professionals and entities with regulatory matters, including petitions, certifications, administrative actions and enforcement proceedings.

Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS/Drones)
We are at the vanguard of developments in support of this emerging industry. We have counseled on the law governing UAS systems throughout the world and provided advice to a wide variety of clients regarding the procedure for obtaining an Airworthiness Certificate for the operation of UAS systems. We have authored several Section 333 petitions seeking exemptions for the operation of UAS systems.

Antitrust and Bankruptcy
With the assistance of Schnader's Antitrust Group, we have broad experience advising on antitrust matters in a wide range of industries, including aviation. With experienced bankruptcy attorneys in our Bankruptcy Group resident on both the East and West Coasts of the United States, we are well positioned to assist our aviation clients in dealing with issues arising out of bankruptcies.

Group Presentations
  Robert Williams to Present at Aviation Insurance Conference 2015, Speaker: Robert Williams, Stevensville, Maryland, September 10, 2015
Jonathan Stern to Speak at ABA Conference, Speaker: Jonathan Stern, New York, New York, June 4, 2015
Bob Williams to Speak at ACI's Aviation Claims & Litigation Conference, Speaker: Robert Williams, New York, New York, June 1, 2015
Articles Authored by Lawyers at this office:

Drone Propellers Aren't the Only Things Buzzing as the FAA Releases Proposed Regulations for the Commercial Operation of Unmanned Aerial Systems
Robert J. Williams, April 20, 2015
In a surprise move during Presidents’ Day weekend, the Federal Aviation Administration released long-awaited proposed regulations for the commercial operation of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS). The draft regulations prompted a collective sigh of relief by UAS advocates, as they are...

Win Some, Lose Some: Assumption of Risk Defense Fails for Sports Complex Owners; Claims Against Dome Seller Dismissed
Harris Neal Feldman,Matthew J. Kelly, April 20, 2015
A plaintiff bringing product liability and premises liability claims against multiple defendants in an effort to cover all bases often leads to different legal defenses among classes of co-defendants and a scattered offense by plaintiff’s counsel and plaintiff’s liability expert. A...

Recent NJ Appellate Court Decision Indicative of Continuing Uncertainty Regarding Personal Jurisdiction Over Foreign Manufacturers Using U.S. Distributors
Barry S. Alexander,Lee C. Schmeer, February 06, 2015
The past few years have seen the United States Supreme Court issue a number of important decisions on the subject of personal jurisdiction. For example, the Court’s decisions in Daimler AG v. Bauman, 134 S. Ct. 746 (2014) and Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations, S.A. v. Brown, 131 S. Ct. 2846...

NTSB Overturns Administrative Law Judge Decision and Holds That Federal Aviation Regulation 91.13 (Careless or Reckless Operation) Applies to Unmanned Aircraft Systems
Barry S. Alexander, January 12, 2015
The Federal Aviation Association (FAA) is feverishly working on a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) governing commercial use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), which it intends to have ready by the end of 2014. Details about the NPRM have begun to spread, including the FAA’s apparent...