As an FAA-certified commercial pilot and instrument flight instructor, with both single-engine and multi-engine certification, Mark knows the aviation industry. And that gives him a unique insight into the legal responsibilities of pilots, aircraft manufacturers, operators, repair facilities, air traffic controllers, airport authorities, and others in the aviation realm in aviation accident litigation, including both airplane crash and helicopter crash cases.
Mark chaired the Aviation Law Section of the State Bar of Texas for the 2017-2018 term. He has served as President of the Lawyer-Pilots Bar Association and as Chair of the Aviation Section of the American Association for Justice. As a leader in promoting aviation safety, Mark is a frequent speaker to aviation law groups.
Mark has been Board Certified in Civil Trial Law since 1988 by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. In addition to his highly-regarded contributions in aviation litigation, Mark’s courtroom experience includes many jury trials concerning business litigation matters, as well as dangerous products, personal injury, and wrongful death claims.
- Lead counsel in jury trial for the family of an aircraft mechanic killed because of negligence of a corporate airplane operator who failed to depressurize the airplane during ground operations, causing explosive opening of a cabin door on a Hawker Beechcraft King Air B200.
- Lead counsel in jury trial for a United States Border Patrol agent against a helicopter manufacturer and a component manufacturer, arising from the crash of a Eurocopter AS350 B2 helicopter, causing serious injuries to the agent and the death of the pilot.
- Lead counsel in jury trial for a pilot who was seriously injured in an airplane crash caused by catastrophic engine failure in a Twin Commander 685.
- Defense of the seller of a Boeing 727 executive jet who was sued for claims arising out of representations at the time of sale.
- Prosecution of a claim for breach of contract and fraud arising from a business owner’s purchase of three Bombardier Challenger 600 jets for a price in excess of $16 million.
- Insurance claim for the owner of a Learjet 35 whose airplane was vandalized while in a hangar.
- Wrongful death claim for the family of a passenger on an air ambulance helicopter who was killed while being evacuated from the scene of an automobile accident.
- Breach of contract claim against a charter jet operator for failing to honor contract obligations.
- Product liability claim against a helicopter manufacturer for a U.S. Army helicopter instructor pilot who suffered traumatic amputation of an arm in a rollover crash after loss of control during a training flight.
- Defense of the seller of a twin-engine Cessna 414 airplane for claims arising out of representations made at the time of sale.
- Wrongful death case for a pilot who was given inadequate information from air traffic controllers, resulting in flight into a severe thunderstorm and a subsequent in-flight breakup of his twin-engine Piper Aztec airplane.
- Wrongful death claim for the family of a passenger in a Piper Saratoga airplane who was killed when the aircraft went out of control in instrument meteorological conditions and crashed near Jacksonville, Maryland.
- Wrongful death claim for the sons of a patient being transported on an air ambulance flight in a Cessna 421 which crashed because of mis-fueling of the airplane by ground personnel.
- Lawsuit for diminution of value against airframe and engine manufacturers for failure of an engine in a nearly-new business jet aircraft.
- Prosecution of a claim against a repair station for damage to a Learjet 35 arising from an explosion that damaged the airplane as a result of improper servicing procedures.
- Fraud, breach of contract, and breach of warranty case against a repair station for overcharging and overbilling on maintenance and repairs to a corporate jet.
- Lawsuit for diminution of value of Cessna turbo 206 airplane caused by a factory-authorized repair shop’s causing additional damage to the aircraft during a repair.
- Claim against a manufacturer’s authorized repair station for allowing damage to occur to a corporate Cessna CJ1+ jet during routine maintenance and inspection.
- Product liability lawsuit against a helicopter manufacturer for a defect that caused injuries to a U.S. Border Patrol agent.
- Defense of a co-owner of a Challenger jet against claims of a business partner related to accounting for costs and profits of the partnership.
- Wrongful death claims for a pilot and flight instructor who were killed after an engine failure on takeoff in a Piper P28R Arrow.
- Injury claim against an airline for injuring apassenger who needed wheelchair assistance.
- Lawsuit against an airline for injuries to ground personnel resulting from the crash of a military cargo airplane (Boeing 747).
- Lawsuit against an airline under the Montreal Convention for serious injuries to a passenger on an international flight from Germany to Chicago, Illinois.
- Lawsuit against an airline for defective maintenance practices that resulted in an emergency landing that led to injuries to passengers evacuating the airplane.
- Federal court lawsuit against a government air traffic control facility for the wrongful death of a minor girl resulting from a controller issuing improper instructions to a pilot of a Cessna 195 during an engine-failure emergency over the coastal waters of Florida.
- Wrongful death lawsuit against the manufacturer of avionics in a Piper Meridian that crashed and killed all aboard when the pilot lost control of the airplane in instrument meteorological conditions.
- Prosecution of a claim against an airline in Belize for a passenger’s serious injuries resulting from an engine failure and a crash landing in a Cessna Caravan.
- Wrongful death claim for parents of a passenger in a Cessna 172 that crashed shortly after takeoff near Hatch, New Mexico.
- Product liability lawsuit for the death of a pipeline patrol pilot who crashed after an engine failure in a Cessna 172.
- Lawsuit for a helicopter pilot’s death when the Airbus AS350 B3 helicopter he was flying spun out of control and crashed in Seattle, Washington.
- Lawsuit against an aircraft repair shop for misrepresentation and failure to perform services on an airplane engine for a Piper Saratoga.
- Lawsuit against an aircraft repair station for certifying the engines on a Beech Baron airplane as airworthy during an annual inspection before an in-flight engine failure.
- Product liability claims for death and severe personal injuries arising from defective tires.
- Prosecution of claim for traumatic arm amputation resulting from a crash caused by a tractor-trailer rig being driven too slowly on an interstate highway.
- Lead counsel in jury trial under Texas Tort Claims Act for an incident that blinded a patient of Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center.
- Prosecution of a mother’s wrongful death claim for the burning death of a child caused by the negligence of the mother’s ex-spouse.
- Traumatic brain injury case against trucking company for a crash caused by an 18-wheeler driver’s unsafe lane change.
- Lead counsel in jury trial for prosecution of product liability claims involving severe injuries from explosion of glass cookware caused by faulty manufacture and design.
- Lead counsel in jury trial for an airline baggage handler who was seriously injured in a ground incident at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.
- Lead counsel in jury trial in product warning case for an automobile owner burned by carburetor backfire.
- Prosecution of claims against a trucking company for severe injuries resulting from an axle that separated from a truck at highway speed and struck an oncoming motorist.
- Co-lead trial counsel for bank customer to recover customer funds stolen by bank executive.
- Representation of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) in connection with claims acquired from failed banks.
- Lead counsel for credit union to collect unpaid promissory notes.
- Lead counsel for automobile manufacturers in defense of warranty claims.
- Defense of automobile dealers in trial of consumer fraud/deceptive trade practices claims.
- Lead counsel for former employee in defense of claim of misappropriation of trade secrets.
- Lead counsel for employers and employees in prosecution and defense of covenants not to compete.
- Lead trial counsel for consumers against automobile and recreational vehicle manufacturers and retailers in prosecution of consumer claims under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act, the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, common law fraud, breach of warranties, and breach of contract.
- Lead counsel for equipment leasing companies in sequestration and breach of contract actions relating to leases of equipment.
- Lead trial counsel for a buyer against a real estate developer for real estate fraud and deceptive trade practices in connection with the purchase of raw land for construction.
Texas Board of Legal Specialization
Admitted to practice: Supreme Court of Texas/State Bar of Texas; U.S. District Courts: Western, Eastern, Southern, and Northern Districts of Texas; Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals; United States Supreme Court
Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Rating: AV Preeminent
Selected to Texas Super Lawyers each year 2011-2018 in Aviation Law (Super Lawyers recognition is a Thompson Reuters service)
- Bachelor of Journalism, with High Honors
- Doctor of Jurisprudence, with Honors
- American Board of Trial Advocates (Advocate-level member)
- Lawyer-Pilots Bar Association (President, 2015-2016)
- Chair, Aviation Law Section, State Bar of Texas 2017-2018
- Former president El Paso Trial Lawyers Association (two terms)
- American Association for Justice (Past Chair, Aviation Section)
- Texas Trial Lawyers Association (Former member, Board of Directors)
- Austin Bar Association
- El Paso Bar Association (Former Chair, Speakers Bureau and Consumer Law Committees)
- Texas Aviation Association (Former member, Board of Directors)
- National Association of Flight Instructors
- Society of Aviation and Flight Educators (SAFE) (Former member, Governance Committee and Government Affairs Committee)
- Former special prosecutor, 34th Judicial District of Texas
- Texas Bar College
- Life Fellow, Texas Bar Foundation
- Barbara Jordan American Inn of Court (Chair, Community Outreach)
- The Seven Communication Secrets of Trial Lawyers, The Toastmaster magazine, September 2003
- Transactions Gone Bad: Litigation Between Buyers and Sellers of Aircraft
- The Pilot-Controller Relationship – Assessing Comparative Responsibility in General Aviation Crashes
- Is Your Pilot Legal and Safe?
“Buying and Selling Private Aircraft: What Could Go Wrong?” (State Bar of Texas, Austin, Texas, March 2017)
“Closing Strong: Converting your Earned Trust into a Just Verdict” (Consumer Protection Division, Office of the Attorney General of the State of Texas, December 2016)
“Jury Selection: Finding the Elusive ‘Impartial Juror’” (Consumer Protection Division, Office of the Attorney General of the State of Texas, April 2016)
“Open Wide: Using Opening Statements for Maximum Effect” (Consumer Protection Division, Office of the Attorney General of the State of Texas, January 2016)
“Talk to Me: Jury Selection in State and Federal Courts” (Consumer Protection Division, Office of the Attorney General of the State of Texas, October 2015)
“Marshalling Evidence” (Volunteer Legal Services of Central Texas Basic Litigation Training, March 2015)
“Commercial Aviation and Human Factors Issues: Pilot Discipline and the Safety Culture” (American Association for Justice Annual Convention, July 2014)
“Human Factors in the Cockpit – Breaking Glass” (State Bar of Texas Annual Meeting – Aviation Section CLE, June 2014)
“Automation Addiction and Pilot Training” (American Bar Association, Aviation Litigation National Institute, June 2014)
“How to Ask For and Get Damages with Conservative Juries” (Texas Trial Lawyers Association, February, 2014)
“Demographics are for Dummies: New Ideas for Influencing Jurors” (Lawyer-Pilots Bar Association, July 2013)
“Closing Strong: Turning a Good Case into a Great Verdict” (El Paso County Trial Lawyers Association, January 2013; Odessa Trial Lawyers Association, March 2013; Lubbock Trial Lawyers Association, April 2013)
“How to Ask For and Get Damages with Conservative Juries” (Capital Area Trial Lawyers Association, January 2013)
“Government Documents and Witnesses: Using FOIA and Touhy in Aviation Litigation” (SMU Air Law Symposium, March 2012)
“What You Should Know about Airplane and Helicopter Crashes” (El Paso, Texas, October 2008)
“Effective Strategies for Growing and Adapting Your Practice” (University of Texas Litigation Symposium, October 2008)
“The Pilot-Controller Relationship: Assessing Comparative Responsibility in General Aviation Crashes” (American Association for Justice, Philadelphia, PA, July 2008)
“How to Litigate Your First Civil Trial in Texas” (El Paso, Texas, January 2003)