Mike Davis Featured in Oak Hill Gazette: Pony Commissioner Looks Back on Nearly 30 Years in Oak Hill

For the last 30 years, Slack & Davis Partner and Co-Founder Mike Davis has made it his mission to ensure that children in the Oak Hill Youth Sports Association (OHYSA) in Austin were building confidence, learning something new, having fun and forging long lasting friendships.

For Davis, his involvement in OHYSA began as a volunteer when his son first started playing T-Ball. At the 50-year anniversary of the ballfields, Davis spoke with the Oak Hill Gazette and remarked that volunteering was a slippery slope – he first started out as a “helper dad,” then became an assistant coach, and the following year he was head coach. From there, his involvement with the league continued, landing him on the league board and subsequently in the position of President from 1998 – 1999.

During his tenure, he came up with the idea for tournament play with other youth sports associations to provide players greater exposure and help them better transition between league and high school ball. “It turned into a big deal that’s continued to this day,” said Davis.

Even when Davis was diagnosed with lymphoma, he told the Gazette, “About the only thing I looked forward to every day was when I was out there on the field coaching my team.” Years later, Davis noted that coaching still provided a release for him from the stresses of his work as an attorney. He was able to get as much back as he was giving, which extended beyond volunteer work. When floods hit South Austin a few years ago and completely devastated the sports complex, Davis and the firm contributed financially to all restoration efforts, even sponsoring brand-new scoreboards to celebrate the firm’s 20th anniversary and to honor the sports complex.

Through his later years at Oak Hill, Davis learned the true value of coaching when he no longer had a child on the team. He was a more laid-back coach, and even though the team did not win often, each kid signed back up for the next year. “If we do our jobs right as coaches, they’ll love it no matter if they win or lose.”

Ladd Sanger Authors Texas Lawyer Article: The Shifting Sands of Personal Jurisdiction

In the Texas Lawyer article “The Shifting Sands of Personal Jurisdiction,” Partner Ladd Sanger provided perspective on the issue of personal jurisdiction when it comes to aviation litigation. As an FAA-licensed commercial airline pilot, and a licensed helicopter pilot, Ladd examined how aviation litigation can become even more cumbersome, as battles over jurisdiction continue to prolong and complicate cases.

“Aviation cases are particularly affected by personal jurisdiction, because there are almost always numerous jurisdictions implicated given the transient nature of aircraft,” Sanger wrote. “For example, it is common for an aircraft to be manufactured in one location, maintenance on the aircraft and its engines to be done in several states, manufacturers in additional jurisdictions, and operators/pilots coming from yet other places.”

What this all adds up to for plaintiffs is often the need to file multiple lawsuits in multiple jurisdictions, resulting in inefficiency within the judicial system, as each separate case will proceed on different discovery and trial schedules. This translates to drawn out litigation and increasingly complex battles with the defense, who typically fight to avoid jurisdictions which they believe to have a plaintiff bias. For both sides, the litigation of jurisdiction can easily wind up costing more than the underlying litigation.

So where does that leave aviation litigation today, in the future and particularly in Texas? Sanger concluded by noting that Texas is already seeing the implications surrounding the changes in personal jurisdiction, which has resulted in an uptick in aviation cases filed in Texas. This is likely because the state is home to many airframe, engine and maintenance companies where jurisdiction is proper under the most stringent standards, as well as the state’s pro-business mentality, sophisticated judiciary and laws favorable to defendants.”

Ladd Sanger Provides Insight on Airline Passengers’ Rights in PacerMonitor Article

Licensed pilot and Managing Partner Ladd Sanger was featured in a PacerMonitor article “United Airlines’ Settlement Represents a Rare Passenger Win,” providing insight into airline passenger rights, after United Airlines struck a swift settlement with Dr. David Dao, who was forcibly removed from his seat to make room for United Airlines employees.

Though Dao’s case was highly publicized and a confidential settlement was reached seemingly overnight, most airline passengers shouldn’t hope for the same treatment should they run into problems while traveling. This is due to contracts of carriage mandated by the U.S. Department of Transportation. However, Sanger pointed out the contract of carriage is a contract of adhesion, meaning that passengers cannot negotiate for better terms.

After boarding an aircraft, Sanger explained that the airline must provide passengers the “highest duty of care…the airline must transport the passenger safely to their destination.”

However, airlines have done their best to protect themselves from litigation, meaning that the average person who is discriminated against or injured while boarding, traveling as passenger or exiting should not attempt or expect to settle claims without an advocate working on their behalf. “The average passenger doesn’t have the ability to evaluate a case because it’s so fact-intensive,” Sanger said. “If you have significant damages, you need to talk to someone that can help you navigate the system.”

Read full article.

Slack & Davis Featured in Class Action Reporter: Farmers Insurance Suit Over Smart Plan Auto Program

As featured in two separate articles for Class Action Reporter, Partners Mike Slack and John Davis, together with the Law Offices of Joe K. Longley and Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann & Bernstein, LLP filed a class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, Austin Division against Farmers Insurance Group over its Smart Auto Program. The lawsuit alleges that the insurance company offered sizable discounts for new subscribers, unfairly and illegally discriminated against current policyholders and violated the Texas Insurance Code.

The article explains that Farmers Group, Inc. selectively lowered insurance policies in favor of new policyholders while existing policyholders continued to pay higher rates, despite policy changes that mandate lower rates. The class action seeks all damages and/or restitution associated with unfair discrimination; award of attorneys’ fees; expert witness fees and costs; recovery of monies recovered for or benefits; statutory penalties and pre-judgment and post-judgment interest for violation of the Texas Insurance Code.

To read a more detailed summary of the case, please visit our Farmers Insurance blog post and FAQ page.

Injuries Obtained on International Flights: How the Montreal Convention Protects Passengers

From lost baggage to injury or even death on a plane, the Montreal Convention helps protect international passengers. Unfortunately, many passengers and their families have never heard of it nor do they have any idea how to navigate fair compensation from airlines.

The Montreal Convention, adopted in 1999, sets forth clear compensation provisions for passengers injured on international flights. Today, more than 120 countries have agreed to the Montreal Convention, meaning it covers most international flights. The current list of signatory countries is available here. Countries continue to adopt the Montreal Convention, including Indonesia in 2017. Some countries like Thailand and Venezuela have not yet adopted it.

What types of flights qualify?
In general the Convention applies to the entire itinerary where there is travel between signatory countries. Notably the Montreal Convention applies even if the injury occurs on the domestic leg of the trip. For example, a passenger is flying from Chicago to Paris with a layover in New York. The passenger is injured during the flight from Chicago to New York. Even though the injury did not occur during the international leg of the trip, the Montreal Convention still applies.

Do I have to prove it was the airline’s fault?
The passenger only needs to prove there was an “accident” between the time they embarked or disembarked on the international flight. An “accident” is an unusual or unexpected event external to the passenger. There are hundreds of cases that discuss the specifics of exactly what constitutes an accident. Once an “accident” is established, the airline is automatically liable for damages up to 113,100 Special Drawing Rights (approximately $153,000 USD). The airline can attempt to reduce its liability by showing the passenger caused his or her own injuries. For damages exceeding 113,100 SDRs the airline can avoid liability by proving the “accident” was not caused by its negligence or that the “accident” was solely caused by a third party not under the airlines control.

What qualifies as an injury?
Aside from psychological injuries that do not stem from a physical injury, virtually all injuries that can happen on an international flight are covered by the Montreal Convention – lost or falling baggage, malfunctioning seats, severe turbulence, bodily injury, financial loss, and even death. The accident can occur on the tarmac, in the air or even on a shuttle bus transporting passengers to the aircraft.

Can I file a claim where I live?
Yes! Under previous treaties, there were cases where passengers could not file a claim in their home country. The Montreal Convention remedied this issue by creating a “fifth jurisdiction,” which allows passengers to bring a suit in their country of primary residence so long as the airline operates passenger service in that country.

The Montreal Convention affords broad protections to international travelers, so it’s wise for every traveler to familiarize themselves with the treaty to ensure that their rights are protected.

If you think the Montreal Convention may apply to your legal case, contact Ladd Sanger with Slack & Davis at 512.795.8686.