Press Release

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled in favor of a Singleton Schreiber client, overturning judgment that placed full liability on a pilot in a tragic plane crash at the Reno Airport. The Ninth Circuit’s decision recognized that the air traffic controllers were negligent in the crash.

Singleton Schreiber’s client, James Elliker was a passenger killed in a plane crash at the Reno, Nevada airport. In the original case, Elliker’s heirs sued the United States, alleging negligence by air traffic control. After a bench trial, the district court assigned total liability to the pilot. Elliker’s family then hired Singleton Schreiber to appeal to the Ninth Circuit.

On June 20, 2024, the Ninth Circuit reversed and remanded, finding the district court erred when it found no negligence by air traffic control. Singleton Schreiber partner Ben Siminou briefed and argued the case before the court and obtained a reversal of that judgment. The court ruled that “The district court should conduct a renewed causation analysis that, if applicable, considers Nevada’s doctrines of intervening cause and comparative negligence.”

“This is an incredible win for our client and for attorneys fighting to get some semblance of justice for families when they lose a loved one due to others’ negligence,” said partner Ben Siminou. “James Elliker passed far too soon, and his family deserves justice to the fullest extent of applicable law, as the court recognized in this decision.”

The case is Jocelyn Elliker; et al., v. United States of America, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, Case No. 22-17027


The award-winning attorneys in our Motion, Writs, and Appeals practice group are experienced at translating complex issues into compelling briefs that deliver winning results. Those skills have led to consistent success in civil and criminal cases at the trial and appellate stages in state and federal courts throughout the United States.

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