From Post-Flight Brief, to Legal brief

On Feb. 24, as the family, friends and fans of the late Kobe Bryant attended his memorial service at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, the news of the lawsuit filed on behalf of his estate was broadcast across the media. Lawsuits are nothing new to aviation. Six years after taking their first flight the Wright Brothers pursued legal action against Glenn Curtiss over patent infringement of their flight control system. Lawsuits on subjects of intellectual property, property damage, and wrongful death have continued since.

Lawsuits have a valuable place in society. They provide people who have suffered the opportunity to be made whole, and oftentimes these costs force companies to invest in safety. When discussing the safety record of the air medical transport industry, I often shared the concern that, compared to their airline counterparts, the cost of crashing a medical helicopter alone wasn’t large enough to produce rapid and substantive change; however, when these crashes were litigated, the cost skyrocketed and change happened.

© 2020 Iain Holmes