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Preemption in Aviation: Dead or Destined to Make a Comeback?

Level: Advanced
Runtime: 93 minutes
Recorded Date: April 19, 2021
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  • The historical background
  • Aircraft manufacturers’ failed attempts to use federal officer removal to avoid state court Riggs v Airbus
  • The Sikkelee decisions and the related state court case of Repsher v Airbus
  • Looking to the future the effect of Boeing 737 Max crashes and the latest cases
Runtime: 1 hour, 33 minutes
Recorded: April 19, 2021


Preemption remains an issue in product liability litigation. Furthermore, despite the cert denial in Sikkelee, the Supreme Court has issued important preemption decisions in litigation involving the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act that would appear to conflict with the 3rd Circuit's Sikkelee analysis. Considering that Sikkelee may be limited to its facts, this may suggest that in a different case the Supreme Court may yet be open to preemption arguments involving the FARs. On the other hand, recent attention given to the FAA's aircraft certification process, in particular the delegation of certification, suggests that the Agency's decisions on design certification should not receive preemptive effect.

This program was recorded on April 19th, 2021.

Provided By

American Bar Association
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Lauren L. Haertlein

General Counsel & Director, Safety & Regulatory Affairs
General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA)

Lauren L. Haertlein joined GAMA in 2015 as Director of Safety & Regulatory Affairs. Previously, she was an associate in Arnold & Porter’s FDA/healthcare group, counseling pharmaceutical and medical device companies on regulatory, compliance, and public policy issues. Joining GAMA allowed her to combine her legal training with her love for flying.

At GAMA’s, Lauren’s work includes representing GAMA’s members’ interests in issues related to safety and training, public policy, federal regulation, and state and federal litigation. She is the primary staff contact for GAMA’s Safety & Accident Investigation and Policy & Legal Issues Committees. Her work also includes outreach and advocacy efforts. In 2020, she was appointed to the Women in Aviation Advisory Board, established under the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 to develop strategies and recommendations to encourage women to enter the field of aviation.

A native of New Jersey, Lauren received her B.A. in biology and political science from Tufts University and her J.D. and M.A. (in philosophy – with a focus in bioethics) from Duke University. Prior to law school, she worked in clinical research in Massachusetts. Before moving to Washington, DC, Lauren clerked for the Honorable James A. Wynn, Jr. on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

Lauren is an instrument-rated commercial pilot (airplane single-engine and multi-engine land). She enjoys flying, hiking, and photography.

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Jeffrey Ellis

Clyde & Co. LLP

Jeffrey Ellis focuses his practice on aviation, insurance, products liability, commercial, litigation and appellate matters. Jeffrey represents airline carriers in connection with the various liability and regulatory issues confronting the aviation industry on both the domestic and international fronts. In this regard, he consults with airlines, manufacturers, insurers and industry groups to analyze the legal and regulatory implications of issues related to the federal and/or international preemption of aviation safety and security standards, code share and alliance relationships, connecting carrier relationships, the Montreal/Warsaw system, the Chicago Convention and regulation of drones.

Jeffrey represented the interests of United Airlines in the litigation arising from the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He also represented the interests of Delta Air Lines in the Swissair/Delta Flight 111 crash, Continental Airlines in the Air France Concorde crash, Delta/Northwest in the litigation arising out of the Underwear Bomber incident, GAMA in product preemption litigation and CTA and AUVSI in drone preemption litigation.

In addition to his substantial aviation practice, Jeffrey represents insurance companies in claim disputes and manufacturers in complex products liability cases. He has more than 30 years of experience trying and arguing cases in various state and federal courts. He is listed in the Guide to the World’s Leading Aviation Lawyers.

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Anita Porte Robb

Founding Partner
Robb & Robb, LLC

Anita Porte Robb is a Cum Laude graduate of The University of Michigan Law School. Ms. Robb is a nationally respected advocate. The National Law Journal has recognized Anita as one of the Top Ten women trial lawyers in the country, and Lawyers USA has identified her as one of five "Women of Note" nationwide.

Ms. Robb has appeared frequently in the media as a spokesperson for victims’ rights. She has used issues raised in her cases as a springboard for policy debates in courts and the legislature. She is a Past President of the Association for Women Lawyers of Greater Kansas City, and serves as a member of the Board of Governors for the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys (MATA). She has addressed numerous continuing legal education groups both locally and nationwide, including the American Bar Association’s Section of Litigation, the American Bar Association’s TIPS Section, the American Law Institute’s (ALI-ABA) programs nationwide, and numerous local groups, such as the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys (MATA) and the Lawyers Association of Greater Kansas City.

Ms. Robb has been selected by her peers as one of “The Best Lawyers In America”, which has come to be regarded by both the legal profession and the public as the definitive guide to legal excellence in the United States.

As an educator, Ms. Robb has served on the faculty of the Missouri Judicial College, the statewide conference and legal review course for Missouri judges, attended by sitting judges from across the state. She was selected to present the “Master’s Trial Program” on “The Art of Closing Argument” at the Annual Meeting of The Missouri Bar/Missouri Judicial Conference.

Ms. Robb has received the “Influential Appellate Advocate” award in the state of Missouri for her work on the successful appeal of a $52.5 million plane crash case. She has also been honored as a “Legal Rainmaker” by Ingram’s Magazine in 2014, and she was named a KCMBA “Dean of the Trial Bar” in 2019.

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Stephen A Wood

Chuhak & Tecson, P.C.

Steve Wood is a Principal who leads Chuhak & Tecson's litigation practice group with nearly 30 years of experience litigating and trying cases of significant complexity and exposure, many against some of the largest firms in the country. He has represented clients in courts across the country and has tried cases in state and federal courts from New Jersey to California. Steve has argued several appeals and has been involved on the brief in numerous other appellate proceedings. He appears as counsel of record in several reported decisions.

Steve’s experience in complex civil litigation spans a wide range of substantive areas including breach of contract, the Uniform Commercial Code, Lanham Act, employment torts and contracts, unfair competition and antitrust, among others. His practice also has emphasized the defense of manufacturers in toxic substances, products liability and mass tort cases. Most recently, Steve has specialized in defending cases brought under the False Claims Act and otherwise representing clients in government enforcement proceedings. Steve’s clients span a diverse range of industries, including aerospace, energy, communications, medical devices, and pharmaceuticals. He is a frequent speaker on litigation matters and trial techniques.

Steve is a former captain in the U.S. Marine Corps, having served on active duty as an AV-8 Harrier pilot and training command flight instructor.

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