Attorney Spends Last 20 Years Protecting Victims of Aviation Accidents

by fstrack | August 19th, 2008

Jamie Lebovitz’s ongoing efforts help improve airline passenger safety

CLEVELAND, Ohio, Aug. 19, 2008—For the last 20 years, attorney Jamie R. Lebovitz, senior partner with Nurenberg, Paris, Heller & McCarthy, has been bringing justice to the families of those who have perished in aviation accidents as well as to the survivors.

Having grown up with an interest in airplanes, Mr. Lebovitz handled his first aviation case in 1985, shortly after graduating from Cleveland‐Marshall College of Law. Since that time, he has come to understand the complexities associated with these types of cases in addition to truly understanding how those affected by aviation accidents deal with such traumatic events. He never loses sight of the fact that those who have perished in airplane crashes have left behind loved ones—spouses, children, and parents—along with countless other family members who will forever suffer unimaginable loss.

“It’s important for us to hold airlines and airplane manufacturers accountable for the losses and irreparable harm they’ve brought on these families and to ensure that the safety of the flying public be of paramount importance now and in the future,” Mr. Lebovitz explained. “One of our missions is to ensure the families we represent are taken care of through the course of investigation. It’s imperative that the families we represent are provided with professional guidance and advice to bring as much emotional and financial stability to their lives as possible in the aftermath of such a disaster. . .and by bringing a civil action, we can increase the likelihood that other families will never suffer a similar loss.”

Mr. Lebovitz has been involved in litigation concerning most major commercial aircraft crashes both in the United States and around the world. He has helped to bring about significant change in the way airlines do business and the way manufacturers design and produce airplanes. One case in particular—the 1994 crash of US Airways Flight 427 near Pittsburgh that killed all 132 passengers and crew members on board—brought to the forefront the design flaws with the Boeing 737’s rudder system, particularly a valve in the rudder control unit that sometimes jammed. Because of its faulty rudder system, Flight 427 slammed into a wooded hillside in Beaver County just minutes before it was scheduled to land at Pittsburgh International Airport. (Case No. MDL 1040, U.S. District Court, Western District of Pennsylvania)

Another example of Mr. Lebovitz helping to bring about change and safe practices in the aviation industry involves the case of Bonita Harmon et al., v. Epps Air Service (Case No. 05CV0575, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Cleveland). Clyde Harmon was delivering freight for the Federal Reserve, to the Cleveland Burke Lakefront Airport and specifically, a cargo plane operated by Epps Air Service. Mr. Harmon was decapitated when he walked into the spinning propeller blades of one of the engines on the Epps airplane. The civil lawsuit demonstrated that for decades, it was well known that rotating/spinning propellers on aircraft are difficult to visualize, especially at night (which is when this particular accident occurred). Because of the difficulty seeing rotating propellers, it is critical to have linesman or wing walkers positioned around “live” aircraft during engine startup until the aircraft is safely off the ramp area and onto the taxiway, so as to prevent people or equipment from coming into contact into propellers.

The Harmon case further illustrated the dangers surrounding live aircraft on airport ramps and brought to the forefront the dire importance of having and enforcing practices, procedures, and policies for the safety of personnel on airport ramps at all times. This includes making sure there is at least one linesman or wing walker in front of the aircraft with lighted wands at night so as to prevent propeller to person or equipment contact.

“While providing aggressive legal representation in the quest to hold those responsible for the losses of our clients, it’s important we focus on making changes within the aviation industry to help prevent future accidents,” Mr. Lebovitz said. “Part of our mission is to promote aviation safety and to bring about change in the industry, such as pilot training, maintenance practices, design, and manufacture of airplanes.”

Mr. Lebovitz has been appointed by various State and Federal courts around the country as a member of the Lead Trial Counsel Team and the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee in numerous air crash cases. In this capacity, he has coordinated the investigation and preparation of cases for trial on behalf of all claimants and litigants. Additionally, he is a member of the American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Ohio Association of Justice (OAJ), the Cleveland Academy of Trial Attorneys (CATA), the Ohio State (OSBA), Cleveland and Cuyahoga County Bar Associations, and the Lawyers‐Pilots Bar Association. Furthermore, he has recovered numerous multi‐million dollar settlements and jury verdicts in cases against commercial airlines, helicopter operators, aircraft manufacturers, and the federal government.