Case Studies

Website Content Not Mere Puffery – Case Study

Your new company website looks great. The Marketing Department staff is thrilled with the content. The VP of Sales is happy with the “look and feel” and improved functionality. The word comes down from senior management – “go live”. Now fast forward to a time after a customer suffers a loss and seeks to recover its damages. Guess what “content” is front and center in the customer’s suit against the company? Right – text from the new website that among other things states that the company “has instituted the most stringent safety standards.”

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Voluntary Disclosure – GoJet v. FAA Case Study

Proper aircraft maintenance requires attention to detail.  It is essential not only in the actual performance of tasks but in the associated records.  Checklists and other entries are part of an approved system of checks and balances to ensure that the work performed is compliant with the approved maintenance procedures.  This system drives all its participants toward decreasing non-conformities that impact airworthiness.  So what happens when despite all the checklists and sign-offs a step in the maintenance procedure goes missing?  The answer depends on who finds the error and how they choose to respond to it.

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Employee Non-Compete – Teeth hold in Massachusetts

An employee who signed four non-compete and non-solicitation agreements as part of his employment and promotion over a six-year period could not escape the strong hold of a one-year non-compete requirement.  This result held in favor of the employer in both the initial Superior Court action by the company to enforce the non-compete with a preliminary injunction as well as on appeal by the employee to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Appeals Court.  For the employee, the result prevents him from being able to take the new job – this despite having already resigned from the employer with whom he is bound by the non-compete.  For the employer, the result preserves the one-year non-compete period – thus limiting the potential loss of confidential information and/or improper use of “goodwill” belonging to the company.

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Maintenance Responsibility – Case Study

Aircraft operators are generally familiar with the requirements for “scheduled” or “depot” maintenance on their airframe and engine(s).  Technical requirements are in production approval holder and original equipment manufacturer maintenance manuals; operator compliance helps ensure continued airworthiness under Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations.

“Day-to-day” or “routine” maintenance is another side to the airworthiness coin.  It is widely accepted that these activities will be performed by FAA-certificated mechanics pursuant to the latest maintenance manuals and accepted industry practices.  The mechanics may be employed directly by the operator or by another maintenance provider.  In either event, certificated entities are very familiar with their responsibilities to the FAA for performing and recording maintenance properly no matter the title used for the particular activity.

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Limitation of Liability – Delaware Case Study

Limitation of liability provisions are a common tool for managing risk in contracts for services.  The basis for the concept is simple economics.  In many industries outsourcing work creates a risk management dilemma for both the client and the service provider.  Often the economic risks associated with a service provider’s error, or a bad result, far exceed the fee paid by the client for the work.  To manage the liability associated with this exposure many service providers seek to limit their liability to the amounts paid to them for their service (or even a fraction of that amount more closely associated with their potential profit margin).

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A Case Study in Rental Engine Warranties – Agape v. Covington

For aircraft owners planning is the key to a successful scheduled engine overhaul event.  Owners seek estimates, select an overhaul shop, arrange for a rental engine and set the date for an engine exchange months in advance of a scheduled overhaul.  Typically there will be at least two significant legal documents associated with this event.  One is the engine overhaul agreement which sets forth the key liability terms, the detailed scope, a schedule and the expected cost associated with the engine overhaul.  The second is the engine lease agreement which governs the lease of a substitute engine for use during the period needed to complete the engine overhaul.  This “rental”, as they are commonly referred to, is often supplied by an overhaul shop as an accommodation while the customer’s engine is in the shop so that their aircraft can remain operational.  The accommodation, which is not free, is an alternative to being grounded.

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Flow Down / Consequential Damages Case Study – Costa v. Brait

A recent case decided by the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts illustrates how a flow down provision can work in the context of a claim for consequential damages.  The case of Costa v. Brait Builders Corporation, 463 Mass. 65, 972 N.E.2d 449, (Mass., 2012), involves several areas of dispute between a prime (general) contractor and one of his subcontractors on a municipal construction project.  One of the lessons learned is a keen reminder of the power of simple flow down language and good contract review practices.

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A Case Study in Trade Secrets – AvidAir v. Rolls-Royce

Reading case law isn’t just for attorneys.  If you are part of the aviation manufacture, repair or overhaul industry then the recent case AvidAir Helicopter Supply, Inc. v. Rolls-Royce Corporation (8th Cir. 2011) is a must read.  Decided December 13, 2011 by the United States Court of Appeals for the Eight Circuit, AvidAir v. Rolls-Royce provides an excellent summary of several important intellectual property concepts, including the rights to proprietary documents and trade secrets contained in most OEM overhaul manuals and technical bulletins – in this instance technical documents made available to Rolls-Royce Model 250 engine Authorized Maintenance Centers (AMCs).  The brief summary below focuses on one of the key legal concepts address by the court in the appeal.

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