Speiser Krause, one of the oldest plaintiffs’ aviation law firms in the country, celebrates more than 60 years of experience in aviation litigation. The firm was founded by Stuart M. Speiser, after his return from World War II, with a vision of achieving social justice in the representation of tort victims, empowering the individual to effect change against powerful corporations. Stu Speiser was the first lawyer-pilot to concentrate his practice as a plaintiff's advocate in aviation negligence and product liability litigation. Over the next six decades, Speiser Krause and its members have frequently been selected by their peers to be lead counsel or members of the litigation steering committee representing plaintiffs in numerous cases arising from aviation as well as other mass disasters.
Speiser Krause has been involved in many landmark cases which led to improved rights for victims and helped focus public attention on consumers' rights in general. It was Stu Speiser who led the team of attorneys at Speiser Krause representing Ralph Nader in the famous Ralph Nader v. General Motors Corporation suit, the first case of magnitude in which a private individual successfully sued a corporate giant for an intentional tort. Nader sued General Motors for invasion of privacy after the corporation retaliated against his unfavorable comments about the Corvair in his book Unsafe at Any Speed. Nader used the proceeds from the lawsuit to fund his consumer advocacy efforts.
The firm’s early growth and success was premised upon two underlying principles – superior legal and technical knowledge and an unwavering commitment to service. The firm expanded, hiring former military pilots, veterans of World War II, Korea, Vietnam and the Gulf War, both for their knowledge in the field of aviation and, just as significantly, for their dedication to serving our country. The early Speiser Krause lawyer-pilots established a tradition of excellence in their legal and technical knowledge and in their dedication to the families we serve. These traditions remain alive today.
The firm’s dedication to excellence and service has allowed Speiser Krause attorneys to achieve equal justice under the law for our clients in often unprecedented ways. The first case to set a pattern of administration for all mass disaster litigation arose from the 1956 mid-air collision of a TWA Lockheed Constellation with a United Airlines DC-7 over the Grand Canyon. Speiser Krause coordinated the litigation arising out of lawsuits filed in twelve different jurisdictions across the United States. Following the conclusion of that case, the federal system of Multidistrict Litigation was developed, whereby multiple lawsuits arising out of the same disaster are transferred to a single court for coordinated and consolidated pre-trial proceedings. Because of the savings in time and costs, this concept has now been accepted by many state courts as well. In the years following the Grand Canyon mid-air collision, Speiser Krause pioneered the use of expert testimony to establish the value of future lost earnings. By the 1970’s, this detailed evaluation of a victim’s lost earnings for the purpose of obtaining just compensation became a matter of course, and is commonly used today in virtually all wrongful death litigation.
Along with other leading tort lawyers, Speiser Krause also helped open the door to the product liability litigation revolution. The firm handled the first case to apply strict liability to an aircraft manufacturer: Goldberg v. Kollsman Instrument Corporation and Lockheed Aircraft Corporation, which arose from the crash of an American Airlines Lockheed Electra at LaGuardia Airport, New York, in 1959. Years later, aviation product liability came to world-wide attention with the 1974 Turkish Airlines DC-10 crash in Paris, as a result of which Speiser Krause successfully represented many of the foreign plaintiffs in United States courts. This was the first such large-scale aviation product liability case in history, and resulted in several structural improvements being made to the aircraft. The case is often credited with introducing American civil justice to the world.
More recently, Speiser Krause attorneys were part of the trial team that proved Pan Am guilty of willful misconduct in the Flight 103 bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland. After establishing the carrier’s liability, the firm’s attorneys worked for years and were instrumental in bringing Libya to justice for its role in orchestrating the bombing, an accomplishment that earned Frank H. Granito, Jr. and Frank H. Granito, III the Public Justice Trial Lawyer of the Year Award. Because of our extensive experience in securing compensation for victims of mass disasters, the firm’s attorneys were called upon to assist in the formulation and development of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. We have also represented foreign governments in their efforts to halt illegal trade practices that fund terrorism all over the globe. Over the years, our attorneys have recovered billions of dollars for our clients while changing the way corporations do business.
While the vast majority of the firm's clients come through referrals from other law firms who recognize the Speiser Krause history, experience and depth of knowledge in complex aviation tort litigation, the firm is also involved in other areas of litigation, including railroad, trucking, medical malpractice and general negligence. With over six decades of litigation work to our credit, including many landmark successes, we at Speiser Krause remain grounded in our founders’ legacy -our attorneys remain dedicated to excellence and committed to the clients we serve.