ABA 2010: Ethical Issues in Aviation Law

October 27, 2010 at 2:41 pm | Posted in Aviation Law Current Event, Blogcast | Leave a comment

by P.J. Blount with the blog faculty

The first panel of the afternoon was Ethical Issues in Aviation Law and was chaired by Tom O’Grady, Alaska Air Group. Panelists included Rob Kelly, Department of Justice (and University of Mississippi School of Law alum); Mollie O’Brien, Nolan Law Group; William O’Connor, Morrison & Foerster; and Tae Mee Park, Bersenas Jacobsen Chouset Thomson Blackburn.

O’Brien started the discussion with an overview of the Aviation Disaster Family Assistance Act. She stated that this act gave the NTSB duties in dealing with the immediate needs of families during aviation accidents. She said that one one of the primary requirements was that the NTSB develop a plan on how to manage relations with family members and address the needs of families. She noted that the act prohibits unsolicited communications from attorneys and potential parties to the litigation within 45 days of an accident.

Parks started her comment by noting that there was no absolute ban on solicitation in Canada. Instead, she said, solicitation was guided by Canadian Bar ethics rules. She said that these rules were flexible, but disallowed “unconscionable” conduct, while recognizing the need for families to have access to legal resources.

Kelly started his comments focused on how government agencies interact with parties during aviation accidents. He said that a great deal of this depends on the function of the particular agency. The conversation then turned to the use of fifth amendment rights during aviation disasters. Kelly stated that corporations have no fifth amendment rights.

O’Connor then discussed fifth amendment rights as the applied to employees of corporations. He said in some instances the employees have access to use that right. He also discussed the use of attorney client privileges by corporation, which the panel then moved forward in discussing. This was highlighted in relation the decision to prosecute.

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