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Jurisdiction Established on Dassault Aviation

Significant Cases

THE BOSWELL LAW FIRM

attorneys at law

Ted Boswell and Drew Ellis received national and international publicity over their case Anderson v. Dassault Aviation, where the Supreme Court of the United States recently denied Dassault Aviation's Petition for Certiorari from the ruling of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, declaring jurisdiction over the French jet manufacturer to be in Little Rock, Arkansas. The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals overruled the United States District Courts Chief Judge, Susan Webber Wright, who had dismissed The Boswell Law Firms suit for injuries sustained by a flight attendant on a private Amway Corporation flight in a 900B Falcon jet. The flight attendant had sustained the injuries when the pilots were unable to capture the correct altitude from the automatic pilot attitude indicator. The flight attendant was permanently disabled by her injuries and had filed suit in Michigan, where she lived and where the accident occurred. The Michigan Court dismissed the case for lack of jurisdiction, and The Boswell Law Firm was hired by the Michigan law firm of Gruel, Mills, Nims & Pylman to file the suit in Arkansas. Since foreign corporations are not subject to jurisdiction in any state in the United States simply because they have a subsidiary corporation (in this case, Falcon Jet of Little Rock), Boswell and his firm had to show a relationship between the parent corporation of France and Falcon Jet that created a direct link to the operation of Falcon and its French parent corporation. The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that this was accomplished when the Boswell lawyers introduced internet and e-mail exchanges between Dassault and Falcon that illustrated the closeness of the two corporations and evidenced Falcons method of doing business on behalf of Dassault.

 

The case attracted so much national and international interest that the International Financial Investment Groupe and the National Chamber of Commerce were permitted to intervene as amicus curiae (friend of the Court) in the petition before the Supreme Court of the United States. The intervenor contended that if the ruling was to stand, it would discourage, if not prevent, foreign corporations from sending manufactured good into the United States.

 

The Supreme Court of the United States denied the Dassault petition and the contentions alleged by Dassault and the amicus curiae intervenor; the ruling of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals stands as a jurisdictional precedent relating directly to the ability of injured parties to bring suit against foreign corporations. The Boswell Law Firms victory has been both hailed and criticized. Ted Boswell commented on the victory with the following statement: Making these foreign manufacturers amenable to suit in America for defectively designing products that harm Americans, such as Beverly Anderson, will ultimately provide an incentive to make these products safer.

 

Following the ruling by the Supreme Court of the United States, Beverly Anderson was able to settle her case in a confidential settlement.

 

Articles commenting on the case have appeared in numerous international law and national law publications, including International Law News - Personal Jurisdiction and the Foreign Defendant (Fall 2005), and countless industry and individual web and blog sites on the internet. Anderson v. Dassault Aviation, 361 F.3d 449 (8th Cir. Ark. 2004)

 

Arkansas' First Hedonic Damages for Loss of Life

 

In another case, a $3.1 Million verdict awarded to Rosa Lopez for her injuries and the death of her husband, Isidro, survived a motion for new trial filed by one of the Defendants, James Construction Company of Louisiana. The accident occurred on August 22, 2002. Ted Boswell and Clark Brewster represented the Mexican-American couple and the heirs at law. In addition to other wrongful death damages, the verdict included $1.1 million for loss of life awarded to the estate of Isidro Lopez. This was the first such jury award in the State of Arkansas since the amendment to The Arkansas Survivor Act. Rosa Lopez received $908,940.00 for her personal injuries. She sustained numerous broken bones and suffered internal injuries, as well, for which several surgeons were required. The injuries and death occurred when the Lopez minivan and a tractor trailer collided on Interstate 40 near the 440-40 interchange.

 

The jury divided blame for the accident, with 60 percent being assessed to truck driver, Robert Mendez, of Texas, and the company he worked for, Roadway Express, Inc., of Illinois.

 

The jury found 40 percent of the responsibility lies with James Construction Co., of Louisiana, for failing to enact proper safety measures to protect motorists exiting Interstate 440 to travel east on Interstate 40 at North Little Rock.

 

The crash occurred after Mendez's truck first hit a car that had stopped at a stop sign at I-40. Mendez claimed not to have seen any stop ahead signs along a temporary I-440 exit ramp. The big rig crossed the eastbound lanes of I-40, the median, and two westbound lanes. It struck the westbound minivan, which was exiting the interstate on a ramp.

 

The award goes to Rosa Maria Lopez, her daughters, and her late husbands estate.

 

The case was tried in Federal Court in Little Rock, and James Construction appealed, contending they were entitled to immunity through the state contract. The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the argument and affirmed the verdict and judgment. Boswell stated that the verdict is significant because of the award for loss of life, which, in this case, was a recovery separate and apart from the award to the estate and the economic loss award to the widow and the mental anguish award to the heirs at law. Lopez v. Mendez, 432 F.3d 829 (8th Cir. Ark. 2005)