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March 26, 2019 Book Review

Litigating the Aviation Case, Fourth Edition, By Andrew J. Harakas

Reviewed by Briana M. Montminy

Litigating the Aviation Case is a must-have desk reference for both experienced and new aviation lawyers. This fourth edition of the aviation manual provides an overview and analysis of current legal issues facing aviation litigation attorneys, both plaintiffs counsel and defense counsel. Not only does it provide an update to the three prior editions, but it also addresses several new issues that have arisen in aviation litigation over the past eight years since the third edition was published.

The new edition addresses major changes to aviation litigation that have occurred because of the multijurisdictional nature of aviation law. Seven chapters focus on jurisdiction, venue, and determining the applicable law in an aviation case. Additionally, the first chapter of the book provides an overview of the Montreal Convention of 1999 related to air carrier liability for passenger injury or death occurring during international carriage by air. Chapter 1 discusses the compensation available to injured passengers or the families of passengers killed, jurisdictional issues that may arise, the two-year period of limitation for commencing a lawsuit, and the right of a carrier to seek indemnity or contribution from third parties who are responsible for all or part of the damage.

Over the past several years, we have all seen an increase in media reports of unruly passengers on commercial flights. The International Air Transport Association reported that “there were 28,000 reported cases of unruly passenger incidents on board of aircraft in flights” from 2007 to 2013. Chapter 4 addresses both domestic and international regulations concerning an airline carrier’s permissive right to refuse to transport the passenger or property. Under 49 U.S.C. § 44902(b), an airline carrier traveling domestically may “refuse to transport a passenger or property the carrier decides is, or might be, inimical to safety.” If the airline’s refusal meets the foregoing statutory provision, then the carrier is immune for liability. Chapter 4 also discusses the Convention on Offences and Certain Other Acts Committed on Board Aircraft (Tokyo Convention), which governs the authority of aircraft captains and crew members actions regarding unruly passengers on international flights.

Other chapters of the book focus on litigation topics that include prosecuting and defending a product liability action against an aircraft or component manufacturer, litigating with the U.S. government, litigating an aviation maintenance case, defending claims against ground service providers, the government contractor defense, liability of owners/lessors and negligent entrustment, class actions, defending air carriers against claims of parental child abductions, and best practices of e-discovery in an aviation litigation case.

In addition to common aviation litigation topics, the book addresses emergency response and NTSB Form 6120.1, the Pilot/Operator Aircraft Accident/Incident Report. As you likely know, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has the responsibility for investigating all aircraft accidents. An important part of an NTSB investigation is the completion of Form 6120.1, which the pilot/operator is required to complete within 10 days of an accident. Chapter 6 addresses why the completion of Form 6120.1 may be problematic, when it needs to be completed, and the potential ramifications of completing the form incorrectly. That chapter also discusses what to expect after the completion and submission of Form 6120.1, such as NTSB interviews of the pilot(s), operator, and passengers, and the necessity of the crew requesting to review the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) recording. Those of you who watched the movie Sully will recall how critical the review of the CVR was in that film.

In sum, Litigating the Aviation Case is an essential tool for aviation lawyers. And even though I personally am not an aviation litigator, I found several topics in this book to be very interesting and informative for both lawyers and consumers, so I encourage all practitioners to order a copy of the Litigating the Aviation Case even if this is not your primary area of practice.


To order Litigating the Aviation Case, Fourth Edition, go to or call 1-800-285-2221.

Regular price: $199.95; TIPS Member price: 159.95.

The material in all ABA publications is copyrighted and may be reprinted by permission only. Request reprint permission here.

Reviewed by Briana M. Montminy

Briana M. Montminy is a partner with Burr Forman in Nashville, Tennessee. She is the immediate past chair and a member of the TortSource editorial board and may be reached at [email protected].