ALG attorney Robert Hedrick was invited to give a presentation at the 42nd Annual Pacific Northwest Aviation Law and Insurance Seminar, held in downtown Seattle October 9-11. His topic was “Engines, Regulations and Preemption: Spontaneous Combustion For Judges and Juries”. During his 50 minute presentation, Hedrick focused on how the federal aviation regulations do not squarely fit into state law product liability standards. He noted that a string of cases recognizing federal preemption in aviation matters primarily involve regulation of human conduct such as flight crew warnings and pilot duties. Hedrick stated that for practical and policy considerations, those cases do not mandate application of federal standards of care in aviation product liability cases, especially claims involving manufacturing defects, because the regulations are far to general, and they do not contain specific manufacturing standards, or even design standards. “Thus, manufacturers and suppliers are hard pressed to argue that they are subject to conflicting standards of care, when a specific standard is absent from federal law. It’s a false conflict. By allowing general federal performance standards to control over specific state standards, it is virtually impossible for judges and juries to reconcile manufacturing defects with the federal regulatory scheme,” he said. “While 9th Circuit case law recognizes the dilemma, Washington state courts are not following the leading case of Martin v. Midwest Express, 555 F.3d 806 (9th Cir. 2009), especially when it comes to issues of failure to warn and that of unregulated suppliers”, Hedrick concluded.
ALG attorneys Robert Hedrick and James Anderson have filed a lawsuit regarding a fatal aircraft accident in downtown Spokane, Washington. The Complaint filed by Hedrick and Anderson alleges that the aircraft was improperly fueled with Jet Fuel instead of AvGas, a mistake that led to a loss of power and a subsequent crash. ALG represents the family of the fatally injured pilot, and Mr. Hedrick says that he looks forward to bringing justice to the family of the victim. Mr. Hedrick and Mr. Anderson can each be reached at 206-464-1166.
Robert Hedrick recently travelled down under to give a series of presentations to attorneys and law students in Australia. On May 9, 2014 he gave a presentation at the 33rd Annual Aviation Law Association of Australia and New Zealand in Melbourne, entitled Recent Developments In U.S. International Aviation Law. During his one-hour PowerPoint presentation, he discussed recent Montreal Convention cases, issues of U.S. Jurisdiction and Forum Non Conveniens, Airline Deregulation Act Preemption cases, and the status of U.S. drone regulation. Hedrick also provided an update of major air carrier accidents that are in litigation in U.S. courts.
Hedrick also gave five Nuremburg Trial presentations to law schools located in Sydney and Melbourne. His PowerPoint lecture was entitled: From History’s Greatest Trial: The Cross Examination Of Nazi Hermann Goering. The schools included: University of New South Wales School of Law, University of Notre Dame School of Law, Macquarie University Law School, and the University of Victoria Law School. Hedrick believes that lawyers (and non-lawyers) young and old can learn from significant trials that have withstood the test of time.
On March 8, 2014 Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, with 239 passengers and crew, disappeared. The still missing aircraft is now presumed to have crashed with no survivors. The press sought out answers to questions involving private international aviation liability, and ALG attorney Robert Hedrick had the answers. In the weeks following the accident, Mr. Hedrick was interviewed on radio, television, and newspaper, including the following: BBC-UK, BBC-Australia, Radio New Zealand, China Daily, Bloomberg News, China Central Television – CCTV America, and MSNBC – The Reid Report. On March 12, 2014 the China Daily front page stated:
“Even if Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 is never found, the rights of the passengers on board will not remain a mystery,” according to Robert Hedrick, an aviation accident attorney at Aviation Law Group. If the aircraft or wreckage of 370 is never found, will the passenger’s families be able to recover for their loss? If so, who will bear responsibility? “The Montreal Convention is a multilateral treaty signed by more than 100 countries including the US. The Convention controls ticketed international travel involving signatory countries,” Hedrick said. “Malaysia signed the Montreal Convention in 2008, and China signed in 2005. “Passengers that are ticketed to travel between the two countries are therefore ordinarily subject to the Convention. “The disappearance of an aircraft is an ‘accident’ under the Montreal Convention. Under … the Convention, Malaysian Airlines is automatically (strictly) liable for damage sustained by passengers up to … approximately $155,000. “For amounts in excess of that, unless Malaysia Airlines can prove that the disappearance was not due to its negligence, or was solely the responsibility of a third party, it will face exposure for full damages to each passenger. “With the missing aircraft, that burden will likely be impossible to meet,” Hedrick said.
Robert F. Hedrick spoke as an expert on international aviation law live on Bloomberg News on March 24, 2014.
His interview is available below:
Mr. Hedrick spoke on international liability under the Montreal Convention as well as the likelihood of recovery for passengers on the flight. Mr. Hedrick is always available for discussion of international law issues. He can be reached at (206) 464-1166.