Course Description

601:590. Aviation Law (2) S

R.W. CLARK


This course is taught on an intensive schedule. Limited enrollment = 24.


2022 Aviation Law Course Description

Aviation Law is a skills development course based loosely upon the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 304 disaster on March 10, 2019. Skills acquired in this course will have application to a future practice in aviation, and broadly to any practice that touches upon complex litigation.

Flight 304 crashed on departure from Addis Ababa International Airport en route to Nairobi, Kenya, with a number of Americans aboard and numerous representatives of the United Nations who were based in New York. The aircraft was a four month old Boeing 737 Max 8. The crash was eerily similar to the crash five months earlier of another brand-new Boeing 737 Max 8 on departure from Jakarta, Indonesia. Each accident resulted in the deaths of all person on board---more than three hundred in total. We will consider whether the courts in New York could entertain the wrongful death lawsuits of the United Nations representatives. We will consider whether the courts in Illinois, where Boeing Aircraft is headquartered, could entertain lawsuits arising from the crash of Flight 304. We will from time to time split into teams representing on an alternating basis the claimants and the defendants.

Relying upon International and Domestic law, as well as applying Federal procedural rules, we will develop, explore, and argue liability, damage and procedural issues that often arise in complex aviation litigation. We will research and write motions and oppositions, addressing disputed matters that typically arise during a multi-party lawsuit up to and including trial. If time allows, we may try our hand at opening statements and closing arguments. We will argue to the “court.”  We will learn how courts approach the interpretation and enforcement of international treaties, in particular the Montreal Treaty. We will study personal and subject matter jurisdiction as it applies to international and domestic aviation litigation, as well as federal preemption, choice of law, forum non conveniens and various other concepts.   

By the end of the course you will have gained skill in issue spotting, preparation of pleadings and motions and briefing, oral argument, all with the goal of improving your ability to efficiently represent clients in complex litigation.  We meet eight times: Saturday and Sunday, September 11 and 12; Saturday and Sunday, September 25 and 26; Saturday and Sunday, October 9 and 10; and Saturday and Sunday, November 13 and 14. Each class session begins at 10 AM and runs approximately three hours. We will alternate between the classroom and the moot court, subject to availability.

There will be no final examination. Grades will be based upon your written submissions (which necessarily includes issue spotting), your oral argument, and your class participation.