November 30, 2016

US Supreme Court Denies Certiorari in FAA Preemption Case

The US Supreme Court has denied the petition for certiorari filed by AVCO Corporation, Lycoming Engines Division ("Lycoming"), which requested the Court to review the issue of "whether, and to what extent, the Federal Aviation Act preempts application of state law standards of care in the field of aviation safety." Lycoming was seeking review of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals' decision earlier this year holding that the Federal Aviation Act does not preempt state law standards of care in the context of aircraft products liability claims. The Third Circuit had ruled that its previous holding in Abdullah v. American Airlines, Inc., 181 F.3d 363 (3d Cir. 1999), to the effect that federal law preempts the entire field of air safety from state regulation, applied only to "in-air operations" and not to aircraft products liability claims. The Third Circuit had reversed the decision of the US District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania dismissing state law product liability claims against Lycoming on the ground that the claims are preempted by the Federal Aviation Act because the issuance of a type certificate for the Lycoming engine meant that the federal standard of care had been satisfied as a matter of law.  The case will now proceed in the trial court. Sikkelee v. AVCO Corp., No. 16-323 (US Sup. Ct. Nov. 28, 2016).

For more information, please contact Deborah Elsasser, Clyde & Co, New York.