Justia Aviation Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Insurance Law
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The Texas Workers' Compensation Act (TWCA), Tex. Lab. Code 401.007–419.007, regulates the prices that insurers must pay to providers for various medical services utilized by their beneficiaries, including air transport services. However, those price restrictions conflict with the federal Airline Deregulation Act (ADA), which makes clear that the states "may not enact or enforce a law, regulation, or other provision . . . related to a price, route, or service of an air carrier that may provide air transportation under this subpart." 49 U.S.C. 41713(b)(1).The Fifth Circuit joined its sister circuits, which have unanimously held that the ADA preempts state price caps on air ambulance reimbursements, and that those state price caps are not saved by the McCarran–Ferguson Act. The court disagreed with the Texas Supreme Court, which has reached contrary conclusions by a divided vote. Therefore, in this case, the court affirmed the judgment and held that the TWCA regulations concerning the reimbursement of air ambulance providers like Air Evac are preempted by the ADA, and are not saved by the McCarran–Ferguson Act. View "Air Evac EMS, Inc. v. Sullivan" on Justia Law

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In 2002 an uncontrolled, runaway commercial aircraft at Las Vegas’s McCarran International Airport came to a rest at the bottom of an embankment. A maintenance worked had failed to properly engage the parking brake. The resulting property damage and loss-of-use of the aircraft totaled more than $10 million. The aircraft’s owner, Northwest Airlines, obtained a default judgment in Minnesota state court against PALS, the maintenance company responsible for the wreck, then commenced a garnishment action to recover part of the amount from PALS’s insurer, Westchester, which argued that PALS’s failure to provide notice and to cooperate extinguished Westchester’s payment obligation. While acknowledging unanswered questions of state law, the Eighth Circuit affirmed judgment in favor of Northwest. A Clark County ordinance mandates hangar-keepers liability insurance to protect parties like Northwest. Given this purpose, insurance coverage could not be avoided for an insured’s simple failure to satisfy the technical post-loss conditions on statutorily mandated coverage. View "NW Airlines, Inc. v. Westchester Fire Ins. Co." on Justia Law

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The insurance company sought a declaratory judgment that a plane crash that killed five people did not trigger coverage under a fleet insurance policy issued to an aircraft maintenance and charter company. The policy identifies the company's clients (including Wyndham) as "named insureds" and as "insured owners," but Wyndham did not participate in its negotiation. Wyndham filed a counterclaim seeking coverage. The crash involved a plane rented by a Wyndham employee to attend a work-related meeting, but did not involve the charter company in any way. The court held that Wyndham was entitled to coverage. The Third Circuit reversed. New Jersey law allows reformation, on the basis of mutual mistake, against a party that did not participate in negotiation of a contract and the insurance company sufficiently pled mutual mistake. Although the contract appears to provide third parties with coverage when using aircraft without the charter company's involvement, both contracting parties believed that the language did not expand coverage to entities unaffiliated with the charter company, such as Wyndham. The premium went down with the addition of the language at issue because the intent was to limit coverage for to aircraft owned, used by, or at the direction of the charter company. View "IL Nat'l Ins. Co v. Wyndham Worldwide Operations, Inc." on Justia Law