Krutch Lindell attorneys have handled numerous accidents involving military aircraft and aircraft which were formerly in military service, as well as aircraft which are civilian variants of military aircraft. These cases include both modern aircraft, as well as “warbirds” and other designs that are no longer in military service. These cases often raise issues of the government or military contractor defense. Krutch Lindell attorneys have effectively fought against this defense, winning awards for their clients.
Many aircraft operating today have both civilian and military versions. This duality arises in two main ways: First, sometimes military aircraft are converted to civilian use after service in the military. Second, sometimes a manufacturer designs a military aircraft and later begins to produce a civilian variant. Both of these situations give rise to the possible application of the Government Contractor Defense or the Military Contractor Defense – which is an offshoot of the discretionary function exception discussed above. A relatively recent development in federal common law, the defense provides that a private contractor is shielded from liability under state law for defects in products or equipment that it produced for the United States if: (1) the United States approved reasonably precise specifications for the products or equipment; (2) the products or equipment conformed to those specifications; and (3) the contractor warned the United States about any dangers known to the contractor but not to the United States. See Boyle Dv. United Techs. Corp., 487 U.S. 500, 512, 108 S.Ct. 2510, 101 L.Ed.2d 442 (1988); Oliver v. Oshkosh Truck Corp., 96 F.3d 992, 997–98 (7th Cir.1996); Lambert v. B.P. Prods. N. Am., Inc., Civil No. 04–347–GPM, 2006 WL 924988, at *6 (S.D.Ill. Apr.6, 2006).
Attorneys at Krutch Lindell have successfully fought this defense in helicopter cases. Many helicopters in civilian service had former lives as military helicopters. More still are civilian variants of airframes that were originally designed for military service.