November 2013 Bar Bulletin
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November 2013 Bar Bulletin

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Aviation Conference Highlights Section

By Steven Caplow


The Aviation Section of the King County Bar Association marked its 40th anniversary at its annual meeting in September.

Over the years, the section has become an aviation forum for legal and insurance professionals throughout the Pacific Northwest. To accommodate its geographically diverse membership, the annual meeting rotates between Washington, Oregon and British Columbia. This year, the annual meeting attracted almost 50 participants and was held in Stevenson, Washington, overlooking the Columbia River.

The meeting includes a continuing education program over the course of the three-day event. With some minor adjustments to reflect the presenters' schedules, this year's program followed the history of a specific private aircraft.

The program began with the purchase of the aircraft and included presentations regarding negotiation of the transaction; security interests for the aircraft, engines and spare parts; insurance; and tax. The aircraft was then reported lost during flight, precipitating a search-and-rescue mission by the Washington Civil Air Patrol.

The Civil Air Patrol, established during WWII, is a volunteer organization that supplies aircraft and crew to search for downed aircraft. The search introduced various legal issues related to jurisdiction, the legal status of the aircrew and potential tort issues associated with the conduct of the search. With the benefit of (highly abbreviated) training and a few hints, the audience located the white aircraft in a snow field.

The presentations that followed addressed litigation and insurance issues arising from the aircraft accident, including discussion of evidentiary issues and insurance "bad faith" claims. There was also a presentation on the ethical issues related to post-crash marketing. By tradition, the continuing education program concludes with law students and recent graduates presenting the case law update on aviation-related issues.

The meeting brings together transactional, litigation and insurance professionals. Among the litigators, it is an opportunity for the plaintiff-side and defense-side attorneys to come together and discuss issues of common interest with the benefit of different perspectives.

The dinner speaker for the event was Dean Englehardt, a stunt pilot for film and television. His credits include the fourth and final installment of the "Airport" series, "Airport '79," and the television show "The Rockford Files."

Englehardt described a career that involved aerial acrobatics, filming the crashes of 14 aircraft and hot air balloons, and an era that apparently involved somewhat less stringent regulation by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Stephanie Burnett completed her term as president and will be succeeded by Jimmy Anderson. The KCBA Aviation Section offers a chance to meet with other lawyers who handle aviation-related transactions and litigation. Some but not all of its members are pilots.

The Section meets monthly in Seattle and welcomes new members. The next annual meeting will be held in September 2014.

Steven Caplow is a partner at Davis Wright Tremaine LLP. He is the upcoming vice president of the KCBA Aviation Section.


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