Montgomery v. Airbus Helicopters, Inc.

The Oklahoma Supreme Court granted certiorari to address whether defendants-appellees, whose products were used to make an ambulance helicopter, had sufficient minimum contacts with the State of Oklahoma in order to establish personal jurisdiction over them after the helicopter crashed in Oklahoma, killing two Oklahoma residents. This case arose out of a crash in 2013. The pilot, Mark Montgomery (pilot), and his crew, responded to an emergency medical transport call at Integris Baptist Hospital in Oklahoma City, for Watonga, Oklahoma. The crash killed two Oklahoma residents who were onboard the helicopter: the pilot, and the flight nurse, Chris Denning. The onboard flight paramedic, Billy Wynne, survived with severe injuries which resulted in amputation. The crash destroyed the helicopter. Allegedly, the crash was witnessed by dozens of Oklahoma residents. EagleMed, L.L.C. a Delaware incorporated L.L.C. with its principal place of business in Wichita, Kansas, employed the Oklahoma pilot and the crew. EagleMed operated a helicopter ambulance service for the region. The crash was allegedly caused by an air intake defect which allowed ice to accumulate in the air inlet and enter the compressor, causing the engine to flame out and crash. Airbus Helicopters SAS, a French Company, designed and manufactured the accident helicopter in France, and sold it to the appellee, Airbus Helicopters, Inc. (Airbus), a Grand Prairie, Texas, company. The original engine was replaced by Honeywell International, Inc. of Morristown, New Jersey, who designed and manufactured the replacement engine. An Olympia, Washington company, Soloy, L.L.C. provided the engineering and design for installation of the engine. In 2004, Airbus sold the helicopter, an AS350B, to Ballard Aviation, Inc. d/b/a EagleMed. Airbus delivered the helicopter in an unassembled condition to Texas for shipment, but it did not make the arrangements for it to be delivered to Wichita, Kansas. Rather, the Airbus standard practice was to deliver their helicopters to their place of business in Texas, and have the buyers handle any further transportation services. The purchase agreement between EagleMed and Airbus contained a forum selection and choice of law clause regarding any litigation to take place in Texas. The crew’s survivors all sued Airbus, Airbus SAS, Soloy, and Honeywell for wrongful death, negligence, and products liability in Texas. They also filed suit in Oklahoma when the Texas suit was dismissed under forum non conveniens. After review, the Oklahoma Supreme Court held defendants did not have sufficient minimum contacts in order to establish personal jurisdiction over them in Oklahoma. View "Montgomery v. Airbus Helicopters, Inc." on Justia Law