Happy Holidays

December 22, 2005

TAL will be going on break for the remainder of the week and the 26th (also known as "The Other December Holiday" also known as "Shopping Day"). Back on Tuesday with more NewsBreaks and maybe a post about bankruptcy and true leases – it’ll be like Christmas all over again!

Happy Holidays to all!

Out of curiousity, I clicked the "random article" option at Wikipedia, My Favorite Website, and this is what popped up.

That’s just …

I mean …

Wow. Is Wikipedia divinely connected? Or connected to Google? Is there a difference?

What’s this? A newly-improved and highly-functional government website all about … egads … compliance?!? Aw. DOL, you shouldn’t have!

I am thrilled beyond repair. The Department of Labor has upgraded its offerings and from this page you will find USERRA’s newly final regs, an updated employment guide, compliance "e-tools" such as a "poster adviser," and more. Bookmark and visit often.

Link via InHouseBlog and beSpacific.

Everytime I see the name of this blog I get this mental image of some suit with frazzled hair and wild eyes slamming down a Venti latte from Starbucks in between Blackberry bouts.  This one, however, is a budding poet with something akin to the Christmas spirit (or a reasonable facsimile thereof).  He’s even thoughtfully provided background music.

  • Stewart Airport’s changing its name … (MidHudson News, via AirMag Blog)
  • Chicago’s been buying land around Midway for some time now (Chicago Tribune) … American’s decision to pull back some flights at DFW post-Wright amendment doesn’t worry credit analysts who say the airline’s still "on the hook" for DFW costs (Fort Worth Star-Telegram) … Whether the Director still has a job is just one of the resulting issues of a certification inspection that revealed 27 TSA and FAA citations at Macon (Ga.) Airport, which is being helped by a TSA official and some personnel on loan from Savannah/Hilton Head (Macon Telegraph) … Small airports in my home state (think tar on heels) get some good press (Raleigh, NC News & Observer) (all via AirportBusiness.com)
  • The Grumman G73-T Turbine Mallard seaplane that exploded and crashed into the ocean off Miami’s shore yesterday will be raised by NTSB teams today – 19 bodies have been recovered, and all 20 (including, tragically, three infants) were thought to have died in the crash… Qantas ordered 65 new Boeing 747s, while UPS ordered 10 Airbuses… Delta’s pilots have chalked up a "rare win" (MSNBC.com)

I received a very kind email a few days back, from a practicing lawyer who’s interested in switching to airport law. This reader asked some good questions, and after letting the reader know of my intent to do so, I’ve posted excerpts from my response below, in the hopes that someone else out there may find it useful. I also hope other airport attorneys will offer some comment of their own relative to their own experiences in securing a position in airport law:

Dear [Reader]:

Thank you so much for the kind words! I’m glad you find my site useful.

Opportunities in aviation law exist at the federal and local level. Of course, the primary agency involved with airports at the federal level is FAA. Opportunities in the legal department there don’t seem to come about frequently, but would generally be posted at http://www.usajobs.opm.gov. Also: TSA (it’s security/law enforcement/civil rights work plus contractual agreements with airports, but it is focused mostly on aviation – though not exclusively).

If you want to work directly for an airport, like I do, however, you’ll have to focus your search on local airport owners.

Read the rest of this entry »

Case NameJackson v. Swordfish Investments, LLC (link to Shearouse Advance Sheets here)
Court: South Carolina Supreme Court
Date of Opinion: September 6, 2005
Cite: 365 S.C. 608, 620 S.E.2d 54

Issue: Does a commercial landlord bear liability to an invitee of a sublessee for injuries sustained through the criminal actions of a third party where the landlord had undertaken the provision of security services in the common areas only?

Conclusion: Not under these facts, but possibly in another case.

Facts: Plaintiff, Ms. Jackson, sued Swordfish as the landlord of Club Voodoo, owned by Uptop Management, for injuries she receivd as a result of gunshot wounds, when an assailant, previously bounced by club employees due to a fight, came back in while plaintiff was leaving and began shooting indiscriminately into the crowd. Plaintiff was shot several times. The tenant had previously requested Swordfish to provide enhanced security for the mall common areas surrounding the club due to numerous past complaints of and arrests for drugs, violence, and other illegal behavior by loiterers and other invitees in the area. Because of the high cost of off-duty police officers, and tenant complaints thereof, Swordfish eventually retained a private security firm to provide security in the common areas.

Procedural Posture: This case came to the Supremes on Swordfish’s successful motion for summary judgment. Ms. Jackson appealed, claiming error in several respects.

Analysis: Relying heavily on Cramer v. Balcor Proprety Management, Inc., 312 S.C. 440, 441 S.E.2d 17 (1994), a case in which the District Court certified a question of residential landlord liability for criminal activities of others to the Supremes, the Court held that there is no general duty to protect tenants from such activity. The court rejected Jackson’s argument that her status as an invitee changed the result, and stressed that the injuries were sustained within the leased premises, not the common areas, and hence Swordfish had no control over actual location where the shooting occurred.

Jackson argued that this was irrelevant, because the action of the security guards in the common areas was the proximate cause of her injuries; more precisely, that the guards should have prevented the assailant, once removed, from re-entering the club in the first place, and that this failure was the proximate cause of her injuries. The court rejected this approach, although a well-written dissent by Justice Pleicones picks up that line of reasoning and runs with it.

The court also rejected the application of the affirmative acts exception to the "no-liability" rule in this case, finding that Swordfish undertook only the security for the common areas, not the leased premises themselves.

Application to Airports: Airports and the governmental entities that run them should breathe a bit easier at this ruling. In their proprietary capacity, government units that operate airports act as a commercial landlord. The Jackson case reiterates that there is no blanket, general duty to invitees on the part of the commercial landlord. There is a catch, though: once security is undertaken within the leased premises, there could be a duty to exercise reasonable care extended to invitees.

TSA works in conjunction with local LEOs to provide terminal security, usually provided with the airport’s own forces or those of the owning/operating governmental entity. There is now statutory protection for airports against liability for damages arising from the discretionary decision as to whether to seek privatization of terminal security or not, but that would not extend to those situations outside the terminal, or to situations outside TSA’s jurisdiction and/or response parameters (il.e., a parking lot attack, etc.).

Also of applicability in the airport context is the public duty doctrine, which holds that the duty of the public safety forces of a local government entity is to the public in general, not to a specific person, unless the plaintiff can show that the officer in question undertook a special relationship wherein she or he affirmatively acted in such a way that would give rise to such a duty.

Got an hour to kill?

December 12, 2005

Here’s the complete list of aviation-related topics at Wikipedia, TAL’s favorite website. Bookmark it, come back to it when you have a bit of free time, and broaden your knowledge! As the banner on this site used to sayread, "A little knowledge can be a terribly useful thing." Especially, I’d add, when it’s free. (The occasional misstep notwithstanding.)

The Driving Force

December 12, 2005

When I was fifteen, I took a 7AM driver’s ed class in the summer between my sophomore and junior year in high school. My dad would take me out sometimes on weekend afternoons to see how much I was learning from the vice-principal-cum-driving-teacher. You had to know my dad. One day, I recall, after a particularly inquisitive drive ("Dad, what’s the difference between 2nd and 3rd in an automatic? What happens to the brakes when you back up without releasing the emergency brake? If a Ford Explorer leaves Chicago at 2:15 pm EST, and a Pontiac LeMans leaves San Francisco at 3:15 Pacific …"), Dad looked at me, pleased as punch, and said "I know you. You won’t be satisfied until you can take the car apart and put it back together again."

Bless his heart, Dad was actually wrong on this one. I am woefully ignorant in the assembly of the engine of my Cadillac, and happily so, but this week’s Blawg Review has rekindled the driving fire. Visit #36 (wait … lemme … yep, 36) chez AutoMuse. My favorite entries, so far (reserving all rights to change my mind hourly, as I usually do):

  1. Jerry Monaco’s take on legal formalism and jury nullification (which appears to have been written this past June), springing off from Clay Conrad’s jurygeek query: "Did Legal Formalism Mortally Wound the Independent Jury?"
  2. The inaugural issue of Cato Unbound, in which tough questions get posed to bright minds, who respond. This time, it’s "If you could add any three amendments to the Constitution, what would they be?" and the answer comes from JamesM. Buchanan (1986 Nobel Laureate for economic sciences – yes, I had to look it up too).

This post at NY Lawyer tells the tale of two brave attorneys in private practice who accepted the invitation to speak at a GC-oriented CLE. What happened? The attorneys took the brunt of the GCs’ frustration for all law firms, everywhere. Among the GCs complaints:

  • Not understanding the culture and business model of the client company. UPS’s GC made the point quite effectively, "… using as an example the company’s brown delivery vehicles. ‘They’re not called trucks,’ she said. ‘They’re called package cars. If you call them trucks, you don’t understand the nature of our business.’"
  • Not winning. Charles Kalil, GC for Dow, put it bluntly: "Winning is the most important metric."
  • Failing to provide prompt invoicing and, as a corollary, being inflexible on pricing.

There are some good lessons for government attorneys and private practice firms that do work for government entities in this article. The takeaway, from my perspective, is that yes, we can all get along, but we need to understand the nature of this relationship first.