Gerard R. Lear was first admitted to the Supreme Court of the State of Virginia on September 3, 1970 and has been active in aviation tort litigation since that time. Before entering private practice, he was with the Federal Aviation Administration and also served as a trial attorney with the Aviation Litigation Unit, Torts Section, United States Department of Justice. Mr. Lear has extensive experience in airline crash multi-district and complex litigation, as well as class actions involving thousands of claimants. Over the course of his career, he has had the opportunity to practice in United States District Courts and State Courts throughout the United States.
His prior experience includes having served as a member of numerous Plaintiffs' Steering Committees, among them the Eastern Airlines DC-9 crash at Charlotte, North Carolina, 1974; the TWA 727 crash near Upperville, Virginia, 1974; the Air Canada DC-9 fire disaster at Cincinnati, Ohio, 1983; the Arrow Air DC-8 icing crash at Gander, Newfoundland, 1985; the Galaxy Airlines "Superbowl" Lockheed Electra Crash at Reno, Nevada of January 21, 1985; the Northwest Airlines MD-80 air crash at Detroit Metropolitan Airport, 1987; the USAir F-28 disaster at LaGuardia Airport, 1992; the USAir 737 disaster near Pittsburgh, PA, 1994; and the ValuJet tragedy of May 11, 1996.
Mr. Lear has also served as counsel in the Varig 707 fire disaster near Paris, France, 1973; the Pan Am and KLM 747 collision on the Island of Tenerife, 1977; the Air Florida 737 icing disaster at Washington, D.C. 1982; the Air India 747 bombing off the coast of Ireland; the United Airlines DC-10 crash at Sioux City, Iowa, 1989; the American Eagle ATR 72 icing crash near Roselawn, Indiana, 1994; the American Airlines 757 Cali, Colombia crash of December 20, 1995; the 1999 crash of a Learjet 35 which claimed the life of champion golfer Payne Stewart and his companions; the litigation arising out of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001; and the 2007 NASCAR Cessna 310 crash at Sanford, Florida.
During his tenure as counsel for the United States Government, Mr. Lear was involved in a number of major air crash cases, included among them the TWA Convair 880 crash at Cincinnati airport, 1967; the Southern Airlines DC-9 air crash at Huntington, West Virginia, 1970; the Wichita State University air disaster near Silver Plume, Colorado, 1970; and the Eastern Airlines L-1011 crash in the Florida Everglades, 1972.
As counsel in the cases cited above, Mr. Lear has been responsible for all aspects of pretrial procedure, discovery, trial and settlement. Many of these cases have involved multi-district proceedings and the negotiation of global settlement agreements. Several have resulted in lengthy multi-party liability trials involving highly complex issues focusing on the design, manufacture, testing, certification, and piloting of modern jet and turboprop aircraft.
Designated a naval aviator in 1964, then Captain Lear served as a combat helicopter pilot in Vietnam with the United States Marine Corps. He has held commercial and instrument ratings in single-engine, multi-engine, and helicopter aircraft since 1965.
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