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Robert J. Williams

Partner with Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis

    Robert J. Williams

    Bob is chair of Schnader’s Aviation Group and a trial attorney with more than two decades’ experience representing global, national and regional companies in complex, high-stakes actions in federal and state courts, private and court-annexed arbitrations, and administrative agencies. He has substantial experience with a wide range of matters, including product liability, insurance coverage, claims handling and bad faith, construction, torts, property tax appeals, and commercial and business litigation. He also counsels companies on litigation avoidance strategies and risk management.

    Bob is an aircraft owner and active private pilot, with an instrument rating and endorsements for high-performance and complex aircraft. He applies his practical and legal knowledge to the representation of virtually every type of aviation industry participant, including aircraft and component manufacturers, airports, air carriers and other commercial operators, repair stations, fixed base operators, pilots, flight instructors, mechanics and insurers. Bob recently completed a second term as the chairman of the Aviation Law Committee of the Defense Research Institute.

    According to The Legal 500, Mr. Williams is recognized for his “‘in-depth knowledge of product liability claims and the aviation sector’ coupled with ‘the ability to rapidly and strategically respond to procedural differences in various jurisdictions.'”

    He regularly speaks on diverse matters, and has recently given presentations covering the following subjects:

    • “The Invisible Hijacker: Cybersecurity in Aviation”
    • “Does Criminalization of Aviation Accidents Impact Safety?”
    • “Reporting Requirements Under the Medicare Secondary Payer Statute”
    • “Indemnity Clauses for Brokers and Insurers”
    • Aviation Insurance Coverage Differences Among State Laws
    • Personal Jurisdiction over Foreign Corporations in the Wake of Daimler
    • “So, you want to fly a drone?”

    Bob also serves as a member of the firm’s Associates Professional Development Committee and Retreat Committee.

    Representative Aviation and Product Liability Experience

    • As lead trial and appellate counsel for a major airline, obtained dismissal of claims asserted by trans-Atlantic passenger under the Montreal Convention that airline failed to provide adequate medical attention following discharge of smoke in cabin, causing respiratory arrest and distress, damage to internal organs, and mental trauma.
    • As lead trial and appellate counsel for a major metropolitan airport authority, obtained dismissal of eminent domain and civil rights claims brought by owner and operator of corporate jets over ownership of hangar and related facilities erected on the field.
    • Co-lead trial counsel for claims asserted in federal court by aircraft owner and Part 135 operator against major international business jet manufacturer arising out of damages allegedly caused by factory service center during engine performance runs.
    • Defended engine manufacturer in wrongful death action arising out of crash of an E-2C Hawkeye aircraft in the Arabian Gulf during Operation Enduring Freedom.
    • Lead counsel for aviation engine component designer, manufacturer and overhauler in multiple crash cases involving fatalities and permanent injuries in multiple jurisdictions.
    • Co-counsel for one of the world’s leading aircraft engine manufacturers in nationwide litigation arising from a variety of military and civilian helicopter crashes.
    • Lead counsel for holder of supplemental type certificate for major engine, propeller and airframe modifications in crash involving fatalities of prominent businessman and flight instructor.
    • Defense of state police and helicopter EMS operator for claims arising out of crash involving multiple fatalities, and related prosecution of claims against federal government for alleged deficiencies in air traffic control.
    • Defense of the country’s largest helicopter EMS operator for claims arising out of crash involving fatalities and multiple permanent disabilities and injuries.
    • Defense of fixed base operator alleged to have been responsible for loss of aircraft pressurization that resulted in crash killing prominent businessman and his spouse. Designed and supervised flight testing and simulations that were instrumental in negotiation of favorable settlement below cost of defense.
    • Engineered substantial recovery on behalf of general contractor and project manager in action against defaulting subcontractor and surety in the construction of $750 million passenger terminal building of major hub airport.
    • Counsel for one of the world’s leading component manufacturers in actions arising from the fatal crash of an Army Air National Guard helicopter.

    Representative Commercial Experience 

    • Lead defense counsel for global water treatment systems designer and manufacturer against claims arising out of $300 million construction of 710 megawatt and 1 million pph generation facility.
    • Co-lead trial counsel for prosecution of trademark infringement, theft of trade secrets and unfair business competition claims in federal court on behalf of international designer and manufacturer of industrial steam generation equipment.
    • Obtained multiple verdicts and judgments in favor of condominium council officers on breach of fiduciary duty and discrimination claims in related state and federal actions, including recovery of 100% of clients’ attorneys’ fees and costs of almost $400,000. Subsequently identified and played a key role in recovery of almost $3 million in assets that were fraudulently transferred to avoid satisfaction of clients’ judgments.
    • Lead defense counsel for world’s largest cable, telecommunications and broadcast company in multiple actions involving real estate, contract and employment/agency claims.
    • Successfully resolved class action filed against regional medical clinic for alleged Telephone Consumer Protection Act claims, inter alia, by proving lack of culpable intent, absence of requisite commonality and public health mandate as defense.
    • Obtained defense verdict as lead trial counsel for site preparation contractor on fraud and lien avoidance claims arising out of construction of storage facility and apartment complex.
    • Obtained defense verdict as lead trial counsel for insured in personal injury action involving staged accident and fraudulent medical claims by reputed member of organized crime syndicate.
    • Litigation Counsel of America, Fellow
    • International Association of Defense Counsel, member
    • DRI Aviation Law Committee, chair, 2013-2015; vice-chair, 2011-2013; Membership Subcommittee chair, 2010-2011
    • Aviation Insurance Association, member
    • American Bar Association, member; Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section Aviation and Space Law General Committee vice chair, 2017
    • Pennsylvania Bar Association, member
    • Allegheny County Bar Association, member
    • Temple University Beasley School of Law, J.D., magna cum laude, 1995
    • University of Pittsburgh, B.A., 1992
    • Veterans Claims Administration Network, American Bar Association, pro bono attorney
    • Angel Flight Mid-Atlantic: volunteer pilot, community representative
    • Leadership Pittsburgh XXIV
    • Pilots N Paws, volunteer pilot
    • Veterans Airlift Command, volunteer pilot
    • USA Swimming, Certified Stroke and Turn Official
    • Rated AV® Preeminent™ by Martindale-Hubbell®*
    • Listed in Who’s Who Legal: Transport, 2018*
    • Listed as Leading Aviation Attorney by Aviation Expert Guides 2015, 2016, 2017*
    • Earl G. Harrison Community Service Award, 2015
    • Pennsylvania Bar Association Pro Bono Award recipient, 2009
    • Named a ‘Pennsylvania Rising Star’ by the publishers of Law & Politicsand Super Lawyers-2005*
    • Listing in Madison’s Registry of Who’s Who Among Professionals and Executives-2005*
    • Noted as among “Lawyers on the Fast Track” by The Legal Intelligencer-2005*
    • Bernard S. Cheskin Memorial Scholarship recipient
    • Temple International and Comparative Law Journal, managing editor
    • Andrew Mellon Scholar
    • JDSupra Readers’ Choice Award Winner, 2017

    *No aspect of this advertisement has been approved by the Supreme Court of New Jersey. Further information on methodologies is available via these links.

    Published Opinions 

    • Reuben v. US Airways, 500 Fed. Appx. 103 (3d Cir. 2012)
    • In Re Kartman, 354 B.R. 70 (W.D.Pa. 2006)
    • McCabe v. State Farm, 36 F. Supp. 2d 666 (E.D.Pa. 1999)
    Overview

    Bob is an aircraft owner and active private pilot, with an instrument rating and endorsements for high-performance and complex aircraft. He applies his practical and legal knowledge to the representation of virtually every type of aviation industry participant, including aircraft and component manufacturers, airports, air carriers and other commercial operators, repair stations, fixed base operators, pilots, flight instructors, mechanics and insurers. Bob recently completed a second term as the chairman of the Aviation Law Committee of the Defense Research Institute.

    According to The Legal 500, Mr. Williams is recognized for his “‘in-depth knowledge of product liability claims and the aviation sector’ coupled with ‘the ability to rapidly and strategically respond to procedural differences in various jurisdictions.'”

    He regularly speaks on diverse matters, and has recently given presentations covering the following subjects:

    • “The Invisible Hijacker: Cybersecurity in Aviation”
    • “Does Criminalization of Aviation Accidents Impact Safety?”
    • “Reporting Requirements Under the Medicare Secondary Payer Statute”
    • “Indemnity Clauses for Brokers and Insurers”
    • Aviation Insurance Coverage Differences Among State Laws
    • Personal Jurisdiction over Foreign Corporations in the Wake of Daimler
    • “So, you want to fly a drone?”

    Bob also serves as a member of the firm’s Associates Professional Development Committee and Retreat Committee.

    AREAS OF EXPERIENCE

    Representative Aviation and Product Liability Experience

    • As lead trial and appellate counsel for a major airline, obtained dismissal of claims asserted by trans-Atlantic passenger under the Montreal Convention that airline failed to provide adequate medical attention following discharge of smoke in cabin, causing respiratory arrest and distress, damage to internal organs, and mental trauma.
    • As lead trial and appellate counsel for a major metropolitan airport authority, obtained dismissal of eminent domain and civil rights claims brought by owner and operator of corporate jets over ownership of hangar and related facilities erected on the field.
    • Co-lead trial counsel for claims asserted in federal court by aircraft owner and Part 135 operator against major international business jet manufacturer arising out of damages allegedly caused by factory service center during engine performance runs.
    • Defended engine manufacturer in wrongful death action arising out of crash of an E-2C Hawkeye aircraft in the Arabian Gulf during Operation Enduring Freedom.
    • Lead counsel for aviation engine component designer, manufacturer and overhauler in multiple crash cases involving fatalities and permanent injuries in multiple jurisdictions.
    • Co-counsel for one of the world’s leading aircraft engine manufacturers in nationwide litigation arising from a variety of military and civilian helicopter crashes.
    • Lead counsel for holder of supplemental type certificate for major engine, propeller and airframe modifications in crash involving fatalities of prominent businessman and flight instructor.
    • Defense of state police and helicopter EMS operator for claims arising out of crash involving multiple fatalities, and related prosecution of claims against federal government for alleged deficiencies in air traffic control.
    • Defense of the country’s largest helicopter EMS operator for claims arising out of crash involving fatalities and multiple permanent disabilities and injuries.
    • Defense of fixed base operator alleged to have been responsible for loss of aircraft pressurization that resulted in crash killing prominent businessman and his spouse. Designed and supervised flight testing and simulations that were instrumental in negotiation of favorable settlement below cost of defense.
    • Engineered substantial recovery on behalf of general contractor and project manager in action against defaulting subcontractor and surety in the construction of $750 million passenger terminal building of major hub airport.
    • Counsel for one of the world’s leading component manufacturers in actions arising from the fatal crash of an Army Air National Guard helicopter.

    Representative Commercial Experience 

    • Lead defense counsel for global water treatment systems designer and manufacturer against claims arising out of $300 million construction of 710 megawatt and 1 million pph generation facility.
    • Co-lead trial counsel for prosecution of trademark infringement, theft of trade secrets and unfair business competition claims in federal court on behalf of international designer and manufacturer of industrial steam generation equipment.
    • Obtained multiple verdicts and judgments in favor of condominium council officers on breach of fiduciary duty and discrimination claims in related state and federal actions, including recovery of 100% of clients’ attorneys’ fees and costs of almost $400,000. Subsequently identified and played a key role in recovery of almost $3 million in assets that were fraudulently transferred to avoid satisfaction of clients’ judgments.
    • Lead defense counsel for world’s largest cable, telecommunications and broadcast company in multiple actions involving real estate, contract and employment/agency claims.
    • Successfully resolved class action filed against regional medical clinic for alleged Telephone Consumer Protection Act claims, inter alia, by proving lack of culpable intent, absence of requisite commonality and public health mandate as defense.
    • Obtained defense verdict as lead trial counsel for site preparation contractor on fraud and lien avoidance claims arising out of construction of storage facility and apartment complex.
    • Obtained defense verdict as lead trial counsel for insured in personal injury action involving staged accident and fraudulent medical claims by reputed member of organized crime syndicate.
    Professional Affiliations
    • Litigation Counsel of America, Fellow
    • International Association of Defense Counsel, member
    • DRI Aviation Law Committee, chair, 2013-2015; vice-chair, 2011-2013; Membership Subcommittee chair, 2010-2011
    • Aviation Insurance Association, member
    • American Bar Association, member; Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section Aviation and Space Law General Committee vice chair, 2017
    • Pennsylvania Bar Association, member
    • Allegheny County Bar Association, member
    Education
    • Temple University Beasley School of Law, J.D., magna cum laude, 1995
    • University of Pittsburgh, B.A., 1992
    Practice Areas
    COMMUNITY ACTIVITIES
    • Veterans Claims Administration Network, American Bar Association, pro bono attorney
    • Angel Flight Mid-Atlantic: volunteer pilot, community representative
    • Leadership Pittsburgh XXIV
    • Pilots N Paws, volunteer pilot
    • Veterans Airlift Command, volunteer pilot
    • USA Swimming, Certified Stroke and Turn Official
    OTHER DISTINCTIONS
    • Rated AV® Preeminent™ by Martindale-Hubbell®*
    • Listed in Who’s Who Legal: Transport, 2018*
    • Listed as Leading Aviation Attorney by Aviation Expert Guides 2015, 2016, 2017*
    • Earl G. Harrison Community Service Award, 2015
    • Pennsylvania Bar Association Pro Bono Award recipient, 2009
    • Named a ‘Pennsylvania Rising Star’ by the publishers of Law & Politicsand Super Lawyers-2005*
    • Listing in Madison’s Registry of Who’s Who Among Professionals and Executives-2005*
    • Noted as among “Lawyers on the Fast Track” by The Legal Intelligencer-2005*
    • Bernard S. Cheskin Memorial Scholarship recipient
    • Temple International and Comparative Law Journal, managing editor
    • Andrew Mellon Scholar
    • JDSupra Readers’ Choice Award Winner, 2017

    *No aspect of this advertisement has been approved by the Supreme Court of New Jersey. Further information on methodologies is available via these links.

    Published Opinions 

    • Reuben v. US Airways, 500 Fed. Appx. 103 (3d Cir. 2012)
    • In Re Kartman, 354 B.R. 70 (W.D.Pa. 2006)
    • McCabe v. State Farm, 36 F. Supp. 2d 666 (E.D.Pa. 1999)
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