Seven Slack & Davis Attorneys Selected as 2016 Texas Super Lawyers

Attorneys Mike Davis, John Jose, Paula Knippa, Mark Pierce, Ladd Sanger, Michael Slack and Paula Sweeney were selected for inclusion on the 2016 Texas Super Lawyers list in recognition for their work in personal injury, aviation and aerospace, business litigation and product liability. Mr. Slack was also selected for inclusion on the Central Texas Region’s Top 50 list; Mr. Jose for the Dallas/Fort Worth Super Lawyers Top 100 and Texas Super Lawyers Top 100 lists; and Ms. Sweeney for the Women Texas Super Lawyers Top 50 list. Ms. Knippa was also selected as a Texas Rising Star.

Super Lawyers is a rating service of the top five percent of outstanding lawyers who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The selection process is multi-phased and includes independent research, peer nominations and peer evaluations.

Five Attorneys Listed in The Best Lawyers in America 2017

Michael Slack, Mike Davis, Ladd Sanger, Paula Sweeney and John Jose were selected by their peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© 2017. Mr. Slack has been listed for 23 years, Mr. Sanger has been listed for 9 years and Mr. Jose has been listed for 13 years for their plaintiffs’ work in personal injury and product liability litigation. This marks the 13th year Mr. Davis has been listed for his plaintiffs’ work in personal injury litigation. This marks the 23rd year Ms. Sweeney has been listed for her plaintiffs’ work in medical malpractice law, personal injury litigation and product liability litigation.  Continue reading

16 Died in Hot Air Balloon Crash

Sixteen people died in a hot air balloon crash in Caldwell County near Lockhart, TX on Saturday.  Austin aviation attorney and former NASA engineer and licensed pilot, Michael Slack, with Slack & Davis, has confirmed that the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has designated this a major investigation and NTSB Board Member, Robert Sumwalt, is enroute to the scene with a team of NTSB specialists. The media can anticipate update from the NTSB once Sumwalt is on-scene. Continue reading

Class Action Filed Against Uber & Lyft for Violating Federal Employment Laws

Slack & Davis, LLP, and The Brandi Law Firm of San Francisco have joined forces to file dual class action lawsuits against technology ride-hailing giants Uber and Lyft, respectively. Attorneys Michael L. Slack and John R. Davis of Slack & Davis, LLP, and Thomas J. Brandi and Brian J. Malloy of The Brandi Law Firm will serve as lead counsel in the lawsuits.

The suits allege that in shuttering their respective Austin, Texas operations, Uber and Lyft violated federal employment laws, and specifically the Worker Adjustment, Retraining and Notification (“WARN”) Act. The WARN Act requires that employers give employees notice before effectuating either a “plant closing” or “mass layoff” as those terms are defined in the WARN Act. Unless an employer gives satisfactory notice, employees are entitled to up to sixty days’ back pay and benefits pursuant to the statute. Uber and Lyft each claimed to have had more than 10,000 drivers in the Austin area, according to quotes from corporate representatives for both companies.

“Lost in the political theater surrounding the Uber and Lyft versus Austin City Council battle was the real-world effect on the thousands of Austinites who suddenly lost their incomes when Uber and Lyft abandoned Austin,” said Michael L. Slack.

John R. Davis added that “Uber and Lyft have already earned notoriety for an ‘above the law’ attitude, and their continued commitment to disregarding this country’s employment laws is both troubling and extremely harmful to the very people whose efforts have made Uber and Lyft billion-dollar companies.” Mr. Davis pointed to an example of when Uber ran a personal attack ad against Austin City Councilwoman Ann Kitchen, claiming in its app that Ms. Kitchen wanted to “impose 19th Century regulation on 21st Century technology.” Mr. Davis, noting the irony, remarked: “In fact, it is Uber and Lyft that wish to impose 19th Century labor regulation on 21st Century employees.”

Despite the statements in Uber’s and Lyft’s Terms & Conditions that drivers are independent contractors and not employees, multiple federal courts have weighed the evidence and concluded that Uber’s and Lyft’s drivers are in fact presumptive employees under applicable law.

After being served with the complaints, Uber and Lyft will have 21 days to respond to the lawsuits.

Slack & Davis, LLP, and The Brandi Law Firm have experience litigating complex cases together, having successfully represented the passengers and families of firefighters killed in the deadliest helicopter crash involving working firefighters in U.S. history, when a Carson Helicopters S-61N Sikorsky helicopter crashed near Weaverville, California, on August 5, 2008, killing nine people including seven firefighters.

The cases, filed in the Northern District of California, San Francisco Division, are Johnston v. Uber Tech, Inc., No. 3:16cv3134 (N.D. Cal. filed June 9, 2016) and Thornton v. Lyft, Inc., No. 3:16cv3135 (N.D. Cal. filed June 9, 2016).

Slack & Davis Obtains Winning Verdict Against Global Aviation Service for Failure to Repair Known Engine Problem

Mark Pierce, lead attorney and of counsel to Slack & Davis, obtained a winning verdict against repair station Global Aviation Services, Inc. who negligently failed to properly inspect and repair a Twin Commander aircraft with a known history of loss of engine power, causing pilot trainee Rupom Sajib to sustain severe injuries when the pilot in command was forced to crash-land. Global was fully aware of the aircraft’s engine problems, but returned it to service and represented it was airworthy.

Pierce commented, “Global knew about the airplane’s problem with loss of engine power only days before the crash. Even with this knowledge, Global chose not to get to the root cause of the engine issues and instead put several people in danger.”

Background on Crash

On June 15, 2015, Sajib and pilot in command Burl James Wilkerson were on board the aircraft for a familiarization and demonstration flight at the Victoria Regional Airport in Victoria, Texas. Shortly after takeoff, power on both engines decreased substantially and the left engine failed catastrophically. Wilkerson alerted air traffic control that he was experiencing a problem and steered the plane into an open field to the left of the runway. Sajib sustained severe injuries in the crash landing.

Background on Global

Through the years, Global extensively maintained and repeatedly inspected the airplane for necessary repairs. Global was familiar with the condition and history of its engines; however, Global not only failed to properly inspect the engines for the known deficiencies, it assigned a mechanic to do the inspections and repairs who had no experience with piston aircraft engines. Further, Global produced incorrect and incomplete records that are required of a certified repair station under the Federal Aviation Regulations.

Attorney Paula Knippa said, “Global failed to exercise the expected degree of care for the safety of the airplane’s passengers and the public. Even more egregious was their knowledge of the issues that would likely cause serious injuries. They completely disregarded the potential consequences of their substandard work.”

The jury in the 61st Judicial District Court of Texas (Cause No. 2015-27690-7) ruled in favor of Sajib.