Trial lawyer Mark Pierce’s verdict for a pilot’s injuries in the airplane crash case of Sajib v. Global Aviation Services, Inc. has been named the largest aviation verdict in Texas in 2016, according to multiple verdict search services, including topverdict.com and Texas Lawyer magazine.
Mr. Pierce represented the co-pilot in the Sajib case, who was severely injured when, shortly after takeoff, power on both engines decreased substantially and the left engine failed catastrophically.
The repair facility that had maintained the airplane conceded that it had suffered a catastrophic engine failure, and that two essential nuts were missing from an engine component, but blamed “pilot error” for the crash. The Houston, Texas jury found no fault on the pilots and assessed significant damages against the defendant.
In addition to the last year’s top verdict, in the past several years Mr. Pierce, based in Austin, Texas, has posted the highest reported compensatory verdict in a wrongful death case in Bell County, Texas in 2011 (an aviation case involving the death of an aircraft mechanic), the #2 products liability verdict in Texas in 2012 (a crash of a Border Patrol helicopter that caused serious injuries to a passenger and the death of the pilot), and the #7 motor vehicle verdict in Texas in 2012 (an automobile accident that injured an airline worker in the baggage area under D-FW International Airport), according to the 2012 Top Texas Verdicts list.
Mr. Pierce is Chair of the Aviation Law Section of the State Bar of Texas for 2017-2018. He has previously served as President of the Lawyer-Pilots Bar Association and Chair of the Aviation Section of the American Association for Justice. He believes that his dedication to bringing major crash cases to court when others settle for less out-of-court is a significant contribution to aviation safety.
“In the highly technical field of aircraft accident litigation, the attorney represent injured parties must be able and willing to try cases to a verdict to get maximum value and have maximum impact on aircraft safety,” Mr. Pierce said. “Too many lawyers are looking for easy settlements, and that hurts their clients. We get top settlement dollar for our clients in aviation cases by being able to carry out the threat of taking the case to verdict. We will go to trial, and we will try it to win it.”
Mr. Pierce is a commercial-rated pilot and certified flight instructor as well as being Board Certified in Civil Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. His knowledge and experience in both cockpits and courtrooms is what he believes to be the unique advantage for his aircraft crash clients.
“Airplane and helicopter crashes have root causes, and the easy call is to just say ‘pilot error,’ but investigation of aviation accidents is complex, involving pilots, aircraft components, weather, service facilities, air traffic control, and many other factors. Getting the right answer to ‘what happened?’ can have a major impact on aircraft safety.
“Telling the aviation crash story in a persuasive way to a jury is not easy. It is an art form requiring an ability to understand sophisticated technology and to explain it in a way that your jurors understand,” Mr. Pierce said. “And then you have to provide jurors with motivation to see the damages and to compensate fairly. It is very satisfying when it all comes together.”
—by Mark Pierce © 2018