Don Rushing is a trial lawyer and a recognized authority on bet-the-company litigation, representing companies in the aviation, consumer product, chemical and pharmaceutical industries.
As an experienced trial lawyer who is a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, associate of the American Board of Trial Advocates, and certified civil trial advocate of the National Board of Trial Advocacy, Mr. Rushing enjoys a well-deserved reputation for successfully trying complex cases for his clients. Equipped with an M.B.A. in business economics and finance, Mr. Rushing understands the business realities that companies face. This enables him to develop case strategies that align with clients’ business goals. As an Air Force Academy graduate, pilot and former Air Force Systems Command officer, he is able to provide technically informed legal advice in complex litigation. Mr. Rushing has served as national coordinating and trial counsel for companies in mass disaster, serial tort and toxic tort matters that involved class action, multijurisdiction and multidistrict proceedings in more than 25 states. He also represents clients involved in commercial and product liability litigation abroad.
Mr. Rushing is recognized by several top publications for his expertise in commercial litigation, with particular emphasis on aviation and product liability litigation. Mr. Rushing is ranked as a leading lawyer by Chambers, Legal 500 US, Benchmark Litigation and Euromoney’s Expert Guides. Mr. Rushing also receives recognition from The Best Lawyers in America in the fields of bet-the-company, commercial and product liability litigation and from Southern California Super Lawyers in class action and mass tort litigation. In 2010, Daily Journal recognized him as one of California’s “Top 100” leading lawyers. Best Lawyers named him “San Diego Product Liability Lawyer of the Year” in 2013, an honor given to a single lawyer in the metropolitan area, and SD Metro Magazine named him one of San Diego’s Top 25 Attorneys.
Mr. Rushing received his B.S. in 1970 from the U.S. Air Force Academy, his M.B.A. in 1973 from the University of Southern California and his J.D. in 1978 from the University of California at Los Angeles School of Law. During law school, Mr. Rushing was a member of the UCLA Law Review editorial board. From 1970 to 1975, Mr. Rushing served as a U.S. Air Force officer with the Air Force System Command’s Space and Missile Systems Organization.
In re Cessna 208 Series Aircraft Products Liability Litigation
Served as national coordinating and trial counsel for Cessna in multidistrict, multijurisdiction, serial litigation of wrongful death and personal injury claims in 20 different venues arising from accidents involving Caravan 208B aircraft. Secured complete defense victories on behalf of Cessna in Riverside, California in 2009 following a three-week jury trial; in Fort Worth, Texas in 2012 following a four-week jury trial; and in Omaha, Nebraska in 2014 following a three-and-a-half week jury trial.
Minera San Cristóbal Arbitration
Represented Sumitomo and Minera San Cristóbal S.A. in an International Chamber of Commerce arbitration conducted in Denver, Colorado, under New York law. The case involved a contract dispute between a mine owner and mine operator concerning mining operations at the world’s largest zinc, lead and silver mine, located in Bolivia.
Gol Airlines Flight 1907 Litigation
Represented Honeywell International Inc. in a lawsuit involving a mid-air collision between a Boeing 737-800, operated as Gol Airlines Flight 1907, and an Embraer Legacy 600, operated by ExcelAire Services, over the Amazon jungle, Brazil, on September 29, 2006. The accident resulted in the deaths of 154 passengers and crewmembers. Cases were brought in seven different districts, and we were successful in obtaining consolidation of the cases for MDL treatment in the Eastern District of New York. In late July 2008, the motion to dismiss the cases to Brazil for forum non conveniens was granted. The Brazilian carrier is settling the cases with claimants in Brazil. On appeal, the District Court's dismissal of the consolidated actions was affirmed by the Second Circuit. A four week international arbitration conducted in London under the law of England and Wales before a three member tribunal then followed to apportion liability for the accident among certain defendants. The arbitration resulted in a finding Honeywell was without fault for the accident and an award of costs against certain defendants in favor of Honeywell.
Silvey v. Cessna Aircraft Company, et al.
Represented Cessna Aircraft Company in a wrongful death case that arose out of the crash of a Cessna 208B aircraft on November 8, 2002 near Parks, Arizona. Four people, including the pilot, died when the airplane struck the ground at high speed after plummeting from an altitude of 15,000 feet in clouds and icing conditions. After a four-week jury trial in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Fort Worth Division, we secured a “take nothing” verdict in favor of Cessna.
Voorhis v. Cessna
Represented Cessna Aircraft Company in a crash of a Cessna 208B near Oak Glen, CA on March 28, 2006. The plaintiff's initial settlement demand sought hundreds of millions in damages. Several attempts to mediate the case to a settlement before trial were not successful. Ten days before trial, Cessna made a statutory offer to compromise, which was rejected. Trial commenced on October 5, 2009. After a six week trial, the jury returned a defense verdict on November 12, 2009 finding that the decedent was solely responsible for causing the accident.
Cessna Caravan 208 Icing Accidents
Representing Cessna Aircraft Company as national coordinating counsel in individual personal injury and wrongful death cases pending in various jurisdictions in the United States arising from accidents involving Cessna Caravan 208 aircraft flown in alleged icing conditions.
Air France 447 Investigation and Litigation
Represented Honeywell International Inc. in litigation arising from the crash of Air France 447. The crash occurred on June 1, 2009, when an Airbus A330-203 went missing over the Atlantic Ocean on a flight from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to Paris, France. All 228 passengers and crew perished in the crash. A successful motion to dismiss for forum non conveniens before Judge Charles Breyer in the Northern District of California resulted in the dismissal of all actions in favor of a French forum.
Serving as national coordinating counsel for Cytec in asbestos-containing product cases pending in California, Delaware, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New York, Maryland, Texas, and Wisconsin, as well as the multi-district proceedings in Philadelphia. The cases include personal injury and wrongful death claims by persons alleging exposure in the workplace to asbestos fibers.
Flash Airlines Flight 604 Litigation
Representing Honeywell International Inc. in a lawsuit arising out of the crash of a Boeing 737-300, operated as Flash Airlines Flight 604, into the Red Sea off Sharm-El Sheikh, Egypt, on January 3, 2004. The accident resulted in the deaths of 148 passengers and crew. Cases were initially filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California by some of the decedents' estates. Along with co-counsel for Boeing, our firm was successful in having the case dismissed on grounds of forum non conveniens in favor of a French forum. Approximately 600 plaintiffs then filed actions in a French trial court in Bobigny seeking compensation for the deaths of approximately 130 decedents. Plaintiffs' challenges to the jurisdiction of the French courts, including an appeal to the French supreme court, have been unsuccessful.
Columbia Helicopters Shasta-Trinity National Forest Crash
Successfully mediated and completed settlement of 13 lawsuits arising from the crash of a Sikorsky S-61 helicopter in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest during firefighting operations for the U.S. Forest Service. Our client Columbia Helicopters, a helicopter maintenance facility, had performed maintenance and overhaul work on the helicopter fuel control system. Nine people were fatally injured and four survived—the worst aircraft accident in the United States in 2008. Cases were pending in three separate federal courts and were assigned to the U.S. District Court, District of Oregon for MDL proceedings, resulting in the resolution of all claims. A separate state action was settled on favorable terms in 2012.
Alaska Airlines Flight 694 (Ginena)
Scored a defense verdict for Alaska Airlines in a case brought by a group of first-class passengers who were removed from Alaska Airlines Flight 694 on September 20, 2003. The flight was headed from Vancouver, British Columbia, to Las Vegas but diverted to Reno in order to remove the passengers. We obtained summary judgment of several claims based on the Warsaw Convention, but the remaining claims proceeded to trial. After a three-week trial, the jury of seven returned a unanimous defense verdict on all counts.
Alaska Airlines Flight 261
Represented Alaska Airlines as lead trial counsel in multi-district litigation involving wrongful death and survival claims by heirs and estates of the 88 passengers and crew who perished in the crash of Alaska Airlines Flight 261 on January 31, 2000 near Point Mugu, California. Intensive fact and expert discovery led to a series of successful motions to remove punitive damages from the case, limit theories of recovery against the airline under the Warsaw Convention, stipulate liability to remove potentially harmful evidence from the trials, and prepare and try damages claims. Trial commenced in the MDL court in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, in ten wrongful death cases leading to settlements during trial of all but one of the remaining cases. After remand to the Central District of California and transfer back to the Northern District of California for trial, the remaining case settled.
Nuclear Power Plant Ownership Dispute
Represented an electric utility in an arbitration concerning a nuclear power plant that was co-owned by utility companies. The dispute involved the adjustment of ownership interests under the nuclear plant's operating agreement, resulting from an expensive steam generator replacement project funded by the co-owners. The dispute was arbitrated before a JAMS arbitrator under AAA Commercial Rules to determine the rights of the parties under the operating agreement.
U.S.A. ex rel. Kholi v. General Atomics
Obtained a bench trial victory on behalf of General Atomics in a False Claims Act case alleging profit pyramiding by General Atomics in certain contracts entered into with a company alleged to be a related party under common control within the meaning of FAR § 31.205-26(e). After summary judgment was entered in General Atomics’ favor on two counts, the case proceeded to trial on the remaining seven counts. At the conclusion of a two week trial, the court entered a statement of decision rendering judgment in favor of General Atomics on the remaining counts, representing a complete victory for General Atomics.