Eric Strain is an experienced litigator who represents aviation and other clients from North America, Europe and Asia in their U.S. and Canadian civil litigation. He defends clients through all stages of dispute resolution, including mediation, trial, and appeal. He is well known for his work on complex aviation matters and for his ability to visualize and execute legal and technical strategies that have resulted in numerous client successes and precedent favoring aviation defendants.
Eric assumes the primary litigation role for his cases and works closely with the NP Aviation Team’s other partners, talented associates and support professionals to ensure that clients’ needs are effectively met, whether their goal is an early cost-efficient resolution or a full and aggressive defense. He has presented, deposed and cross-examined countless witnesses, including pilots, engineers, mechanics, operations professionals, company executives, technical experts, government investigators, first responders, accident eyewitnesses and survivors.
Mr. Strain also draws on his industry knowledge to counsel clients on U.S. aviation regulatory issues involving the Department of Transportation and Federal Aviation Administration, and during National Transportation Safety Board investigations.
What do you focus on?
I am national product liability counsel for some of the world’s largest aviation companies. My courtroom experience is extensive and includes briefing and arguing numerous successful motions, obtaining jury trial defense verdicts in state and federal courts, arguments before the U.S. Courts of Appeal, and my briefing has protected a foreign client’s victory on a complicated jurisdictional issue against U.S. Supreme Court review. I am a member of NP Trial® along with our firm’s other most experienced trial attorneys.
What do you see on the horizon?
The U.S. court system continues to draw aviation accident claimants from around the world, even in cases having little or no connection with this country. In many cases, well-executed forum and jurisdictional challenges can result in significant early advantages, particularly for international matters. I closely monitor legal developments in this area, and have become known for establishing important judicial precedents favoring aviation defendants on such issues.
- National defense counsel team member for Airbus Helicopters (formerly Eurocopter) in U.S. and Canadian product liability matters.
- Currently leading the defense of Airbus Helicopters in wrongful death and personal injury lawsuits filed in multiple jurisdictions over the high profile crash of an emergency medical services helicopter in Colorado, including obtaining a significant early ruling from a Colorado state court that the product liability claims against Airbus Helicopters are preempted by the Federal Aviation Regulations.
- Currently leading the defense of Airbus Helicopters in multi-jurisdiction wrongful death and personal injury litigation over the crash of a news helicopter in Seattle.
- Counsel for Hong Kong based scheduled and charter air carriers on U.S. regulatory and treaty matters, including conditions of carriage, the Montreal Convention and applications for foreign air carrier permits.
- Lead counsel for the personal jurisdiction defense in Illinois state court of Avions de Transport Régional (ATR) in connection with the October 16, 2013, crash of Lao Airlines at Kone Kho Island, Mekong River, Pakse, Laos.
- Lead counsel for the personal jurisdiction defense of Avions de Transport Régional (ATR) in connection with the November 5, 2010, crash of Aero Caribbean S.A. Flight # 883 near Guasimal in Sancti Spiritus Province, Cuba. Briefed and argued in the district court and the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals for complete dismissal of ATR on personal jurisdiction grounds, resulting in important published precedent. Martinez v. Aero Caribbean, 764 F.3d 1062, 1069-70 (9th Cir. 2014), cert. denied, 135 S. Ct. 2310 (2015). Wrote the brief resulting in the U.S. Supreme Court’s denial of plaintiffs’ petition for review.
- Co-led the trial team that obtained a defense verdict for Airbus Helicopters, Inc. (formerly American Eurocopter Corporation) on product liability wrongful death and serious personal injury claims from the crash of a U.S. Border Protection helicopter. Takacs v. American Eurocopter Corp., Texas State Court, El Paso (November 2012).
- Obtained unanimous decision for Airbus Helicopters from the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals resulting in a published opinion that affirmed the summary judgment dismissal by the U.S. Northern District of Texas of a multi-million dollar contribution claim. National Union Fire Ins. Co. of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania v. American Eurocopter Corp., 692 F.3d 405 (5th Cir. 2012).
- Defended AirServ Corp. and United Airlines in a serious personal injury claim from a wheelchair accident at San Francisco International Airport.
- Defended Swedish aviation cold storage provider Envirotainer from commercial claims, resulting in the plaintiff’s voluntary dismissal of client without settlement money paid.
- Defense team member for ATR in connection with the September 14, 2010, crash of Conviasa Airlines Flight #2350 at Puerto Ordaz, Venezuela.
- Defense counsel for Socata, Daher, and European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company in wrongful death product liability and negligence litigation from the crash of a TBM-700 airplane in Massachusetts. Obtained personal jurisdiction dismissals for clients resulting in shifting of the litigation to a more favorable forum. Harry Newman, et al. v. European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company EADS N.V., et al., 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 63503 (D. Mass., June 16, 2011).
- Co-counsel for ATR in connection with the NTSB investigation and public hearing arising from the January 27, 2009, accident involving Empire Airlines Flight #8284 at Lubbock, Texas. Drafted ATR’s post-hearing party submission.
- Co-trial counsel at federal court jury trial that obtained a defense verdict for American Eurocopter Corporation in a wrongful death lawsuit arising from an emergency medical services helicopter crash in California. Jerpe v. Aérospatiale Helicopter Corporation, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California (September / October 2008).
- Devised and executed the litigation plan that resulted in plaintiffs’ voluntary pretrial dismissal without settlement money paid of wrongful death claims brought against a French aircraft manufacturer and its U.S. distributor in a wrongful death case from a tour helicopter crash in the Grand Canyon.
- Successfully argued personal jurisdiction and agency issues to obtain affirmance by U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals of the federal district court’s dismissal of French aircraft manufacturer from wrongful death litigation. Watson v. Société Nationale Industrielle Aérospatiale, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, 225 Fed. Appx. 716, 2007 U.S. App. LEXIS 7246 (9th Cir., Mar. 23, 2007).
- Defended helicopter manufacturer in product liability wrongful death lawsuits from a tour crash on a glacier outside of Juneau, Alaska.
- Defended helicopter manufacturer in product liability lawsuits from the crash of an emergency medical services helicopter in Washington, D.C.
Publications and Presentations
- Editor of the Nixon Peabody Aviation Law Alert
- “The FAA releases long awaited proposed rules for small Unmanned Aircraft Systems,” Aviation Law Alert, February 20, 2015
- “The end of general jurisdiction over out-of-state defendants?” Aviation Alert, January 23, 2014
- “Personal jurisdiction: Is no news from the Supreme Court good news for foreign product manufacturers?” Nixon Peabody Aviation Law Alert, June 30, 2011
- Panel Moderator: “The View from the Regulators: NTSB and FAA Speak Out on the Latest Aviation Litigation Trends,” ACI Third Annual Forum on Defending and Managing Aviation Litigation, June 22, 2011, Boston, Massachusetts
- “The Nexus Requirement for Specific Jurisdiction Over Foreign Aircraft Manufacturers,” Speech Presented at 44th Annual Southern Methodist University Air Law Symposium, February 26, 2010, Dallas, Texas
- “The ‘Nexus’ Requirement for Specific Jurisdiction in Product Liability Cases: What Do Federal Courts Require Before a Forum Can Exercise Specific Jurisdiction Over a Foreign Manufacturer Who Did Not Place the Product Into the Stream of Commerce in the United States,” Product Liability 360, March 2009
- “Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act: Assessing the Immunity of Foreign States in U.S. Litigation,” published in the American Bar Association’s The Brief, Fall 2004
- “Recent Developments in Aviation Law,” Southern Methodist University Journal of Air Law and Commerce, Winter 1999