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Third Circuit Court of Appeals Finds State Law Product Liability Claims Not Preempted by Federal Law

On April 19, 2016, the United States Third Circuit Court of Appeals issued a precedential opinion finding that state law product liability claims for defective aircraft are not preempted by federal law. The Third Circuit's opinion holds that neither the Federal Aviation Act or a federal agency's decision to issue a certificate approving of an aircraft design preempt state law product liability claims. In doing so, the court found that the presumption against preemption applies in the context of aviation accident claims. The court also found that the FAA contains a savings clause that expressly reserves state law claims. In reaching these conclusions, the Third Circuit recognized that most other courts and jurisdictions, including the United States Fifth Circuit Court of appeals that oversees federal district courts in Texas, reject preemption of product liability actions for aviation accidents. The Third Circuit noted that "[b]esides preserving principles of federalism, this conclusion avoids interpreting the Federal Aviation Act in a way that would have 'the perverse effect of granting complete immunity from design defect to an entire industry that, in the judgment of Congress, needed more stringent regulation.'" The Third Circuit's decision is a positive step toward universal recognition of an injured person's right to seek recovery for injuries caused by airplane and airplane part manufacturers who place unsafe products in the marketplace.

Our law firm has handled aviation accident cases involving defendants and manufacturers located throughout the United States and elsewhere. We have the resources necessary to assert our clients' rights against airplane manufacturers and the manufacturers of defective parts. We understand the complex bodies of law that govern aviation accidents. If you have been injured or your loved one has been killed in an aviation accident, contact the experienced lawyers at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Friend by calling 713-396-3964 or 1-800-594-4884 for your free consultation today.

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