Spohrer & Dodd, P.L.
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Western District of Oklahoma
:Airborne Law Enforcement
American Bar Association
Lawyer Pilots Bar Assn.
Adjunct Law Professor:
Barry E. Newman Board Certified Attorney
Settlements & Verdicts Understanding
DUI Product Boat Pedestrian Auto Government Death Claims
Aircraft mishaps are typically triggered by a combination of man, machine and weather. Investigators are often quick to blame pilots. Sometimes they are wrong. I use independent experts in piloting, weather, aircraft mechanics, aerodynamics, avionics and air traffic control procedures to find the real causes of a mishap and generate recoveries for my clients.
I am Board Certified in Aviation Law, an achievement shared by less than 50 of Florida's nearly 100,000 attorneys. My 30+ years of professional flying as a commercially rated airplane and helicopter pilot helps me understand the physics of flight.
Litigating airline, commercial, military and private aircraft mishaps arising in Kenya, Afghanistan, Germany, Saudi Arabia, West Africa as well as the states of Florida, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas provides invaluable experience and I have personally tried aviation cases in the State and Federal Courts to judges and juries.
Air Safety Commentator
I am often sought out by the national media for expert commentary on aviation issues and I regularly lecture on aviation law topics at prestigious conferences for law enforcement and attorneys. I have also taught undergraduate Aviation Law courses at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University and graduate level courses at Florida law schools.
My cases are often featured in the media. The spotlight on my cases helps improve the safety of the aviation system for everyone.
The federal government enjoys certain immunities that complicate legal claims. But, even the government cannot avoid the law of gravity. After my client was paralyzed in the crash of a military Dash-8 in the Western African desert near Mali, I stepped in to assist him. We learned that two Air Force pilots ignored my client's urgent pleas to load more fuel before departing. A short time later, the aircraft crashed due to fuel exhaustion.
Charter Aircraft Accidents
Litigating a domestic aircraft accident is difficult enough. When it involves an accident that occurred during an international vacation, the complexity is multiplied. I recently participated in the trial for my British clients after their chartered helicopter crashed in a Kenya lake. Trial commenced in the High Court of Kenya in Nairobi to establish liability on the carrier for the damages it caused.
Handling international and domestic air carrier disasters takes a team of experts and attorneys with experience. I have litigated international airline crash cases. In the photo above, a US citizen was among those tragically killed in the crash of Kam Air flight 904 after it struck an Afghanistan mountain during its approach to the Kabul Airport. The case was litigated in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas for the family of a Vermont student.
Air Traffic Control Negligence
Air traffic controllers owe a number of responsibilities to pilots who rely upon their information. One of these duties is to issue timely, accurate and complete weather to pilots. When controllers fail to warn the pilot of hazardous weather, they are negligent. I have tried cases in federal court against the United States for such tragedies. The handling of Federal Tort Claims requires significant experience and teams of experts. Do not trust your case to an amateur.
Why call Barry Newman?
Excellent question. There are about 100,000 lawyers in Florida. Most have never handled an aviation claim. The aviation insurers know who can, and will, try your case if they are unreasonable. I have tried a number of aviation cases to juries and judges in federal and state courts. The published trial verdicts below are examples of my tenacity.
Schippers v. United States, (M.D. Florida, 2009), combined $8.25 million recovery for families of fatally injured occupants of a Beechcraft King Air 100 airplane that was directed by air traffic controllers to penetrate a severe thunderstorm. The negligent controller was not wearing his glasses and configured his radar screen to reflect the same background color as the most severe convective weather activity.
Abrisch (Weidner) v. United States, 359 F.Supp.2d 1214 (M.D.Fla., 2004) combined $9.48 million post-trial wrongful death settlement in consolidated Federal Tort Claim against the United States. The federal Judge found that the air traffic controllers’ failure to provide timely, accurate and complete weather information to a pilot resulted in the crash of a Piper Cherokee 6 airplane, fatally injuring four occupants.
Administrator v. Beale, (FAA Administrative, 2009). Successful defense of an FAA pilot enforcement action against private pilot alleged to have violated presidential restricted airspace in Cessna 172.
Altarac v. Fresh Quest, (17th Judicial Cir., case number 11-09226 (2014)) Client injured after fellow passenger dropped a heavy bag on her head prior to departure in the Airbus 320 in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
Anders v. USA, (M.D.Fla., 2015 pending) Consolidated Federal Tort Claim Wrongful Death actions against the United States for air traffic control negligence after the pilot of a Beechcraft Bonanza asked for help with an engine failure but was needlessly instructed to circumnavigate an airport that was 5 miles away by more than 30 miles.
Avemco Insurance Co. v. Sensenich, (Ariz. 2000). A pilot and passengers were injured when the wooden propeller mounted on their Waco YMF-5 departed from the airplane over the Sedona, Arizona desert. All of the occupants survived the crash and post-crash fire but were injured.
Carson v. Heli-Tech, Inc., (M.D. Fla. Aug. 29, 2002). Defense of M.D. Helicopters in a crash involving a Lee County, Florida Sheriff’s Office McDonnell Douglas OH-6A helicopter. No. 2:01-cv-643 TJC.
Early v. Allison Kennedy et al. (Florida (unfiled), 2017. Claims against owner of a Piper PA-32 in Brunswick, Georgia after the pilot crashed into a residential roof. My investigation revealed that one of the aircraft's six cylinders separated in flight, causing a complete engine failure.
Edwards v. Pilatus Aircraft, Ltd., Pilatus Business Aircraft, Ltd., Pratt & Whitney Canada, Rosemont, Inc., Glenair, Inc., DRI Relays, Inc., Epps Aviation, Inc., and Leach Int'l Inc. (Federal Courts for the Middle District of Florida, District of Colorado, District of Delaware and Multi-District Litigation (2014). Six members of the Bramlage family of Kansas were fatally injured in the crash of the families Pilatus PC-12/45 airplane in central Florida.
Elortegui v. Sikorsky Aircraft (Unfiled, 2005). Client's son was fatally injured in the crash of a US Navy Sikorsky Seahawk SH-60 off the coast of Colombia. The crash was thought to be caused by avionics failure in Instrument weather conditions but the wreckage was never located.
Forman v. Sikorsky Aircraft Co. (D. New Mexico case number 02-0889 WWD/RLP (2004)). When the tail skid mounted on the rear of the USAF operated Sikorsky TH-53A helicopter failed on landing at the New Mexico air base, it allowed the tail rotor to strike the ground and propelled its end caps into the open cargo area. My active duty Air Force Instructor Pilot was blinded when he was hit by one of the end caps.
Gadue v. Midwest ATC, Kam Air Airlines, (D. Kansas, 2008). Wrongful death claim for the Vermont family of 24-year-old Cristin Gadue, who was among those killed when the Kam Air Airlines Boeing 737 flight 904 crashed into an Afghanistan mountain in 2005. My investigation revealed that a private air traffic control company providing services in the Kabul airspace failed to advise the flight that it was off course and below assigned altitude.
Gudal v. RAC, Ltd. (4th Judicial Circuit of Florida, 2007). Claims against a Cessna 340 pilot (Estate) who falsified logbooks before fatal crash during a visual approach into the Melbourne, Florida Airport.
Guttman and Shelton v. Lady Lori Helicopters, (High Court of Kenya, pending), foreign lawsuit for two injured passengers of a charter Eurocopter EC 130 helicopter operating in Nairobi, Kenya after the pilot lost control and crashed into a lake due to pilot error.
Hartman/Sandoval v. United States et al., (W.D. Oklahoma, 2010). Wrongful death actions for families of two pilots after a Cessna 500 Citation Jet impacted a flock of American White Pelicans in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The City had diverted FAA grants for bird strike mitigation.
Hines v. Argus International, Inc., (M.D. Fla. 2013). Wrongful Death claim against charter aviation rating service after a Mayo Clinic transport technician was fatally injured in the crash of a Bell 206 Jet Ranger in heavy fog on a transplant flight.
Hines v. SK Jets, Inc., (Fla. Cir. 2013). Companion to above. Wrongful Death claim against a VFR Part 135 charter operator for crashing its Bell 206 Jet Ranger in heavy fog on a transplant flight.
Hughes v. Honeywell, Inc., (N.D. Florida, 2002). Aviation mechanic sustained a near traumatic amputation from a defectively manufactured heat exchanger test kit for an F15 in Saudi Arabia.
Jackson v. First Choice Aviation (unfiled). Injury sustained when my client's rented Schweitzer 269C crashed into a back yard following a nearly complete power loss.
Jet Club (Bruce Jenner Aviation) v. Thrust Aviation (2008), Breach of Contract brought by aircraft brokerage company after seller breached sales contract and refused to pay sales commission.
Kennedy v. ASI, Inc., (7th Judicial Circuit of Florida case number 2015 30803 CICI; 2017). Death on the High Seas Act Claims resolved for a confidential amount after a pilot exhausted fuel enroute to the Bahamas with three passengers aboard a Cessna 340.
Landry v. United States, (M.D. Fla., 2005). Defense verdict in a Federal Tort claim trial involving the mid-air collision between a Piper Cadet and another aircraft. The Court found that air traffic controllers do not have a duty to determine whether an aicraft cleared for a practice approach into an uncontrolled field creates a hazard.
Livermore v. Confidential Airlines (Florida Circuit Court, 2004). Flight attendant spilled an entire pot of boiling coffee onto sleeping passenger.
Mezni v. Air France, My client was injured by clear air turbulence after departing from France in an Airbus A320. The claim fell under the provisions of the Montreal Convention, which dictates the recoverable damages in international flights. (2015).
Osborne v. Delta Airlines, (Florida Circuit Court, 2001). Resolution for client injured in fall aboard a Boeing 737-200 during the boarding process.
Rasmussen v. United Technologies Corp., (D. Connecticut, 2001). Product liability settlement for soldier injured in the crash of a U.S. Army operated Sikorsky SH60 Blackhawk in Wiesbadden, Germany. This was a companion action that arose after the crash, which was caused by a lateral fuel imbalance. In the companion action, the Connecticut jury found that the manual failed to accurately reflect the flight envelope in such a condition.
Roddenberry et al. v. CJ Systems Helicopters (Florida Circuit Court, 2006). Flight paramedics injured in dynamic rollover of a Eurocopter Twinstar air ambulance helicopter caused by pilot error.
Rodriguez v. United States, (Mali, West Africa, Pending). Pursuit of administrative Military Claims Act benefits for a Dehavilland Dash-8 passenger who suffered a broken back after two active duty United States Air Force pilots exhausted fuel. (Pending).
Rodriguez v. AIG, (D. New Mexico, 2013). Recovery of wage loss and Medicare set aside benefits as well as a waiver of subrogation under the Defense Base Act for injured civilian aviation mechanic injured in the West Africa Dash 8 crash.
Ruffner et al. v. The Boeing Company, (D. Arizona, pending). Wrongful death claims for the families of two National Guard Pilots who died in an AH-64D Apache crash in Afghanistan after the main rotor departed in Flight. The accident was precipitated by the failure of the lead-lag link pin, which retains the main rotor blade to the hub.
Smiley & Halford v. Rotor Resources, Inc., (Atlanta, GA. 2014), Investigation of death claims for the families of two Atlanta Police pilots fatally injured in the crash of a Hughes 269 helicopter while searching for a lost child.
Souder v. Air Amigos (Florida Circuit Court, 2006). Wrongful Death Recovery for family of a pilot-rated passenger killed while heroically trying to avert a Beechcraft Bonanza’s stall.
Thomas v. City of Jacksonville (4th Judicial Circuit of Florida, case number 2005-CA-5026). Defense of a pilot negligence claim against the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office after a Bell 206 helicopter sustained a loss of tail rotor effectiveness and struck a house.
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