Larry S. Kaplan

Member | Chicago Office

Aviation and Space | Commercial | Employment | Insurance | Product Liability | Reinsurance | Trials and Appeals

Larry Kaplan is an experienced trial attorney who has litigated, arbitrated and tried cases throughout the United States, Europe and Asia. He has been the lead trial lawyer on cases which have gone to verdict in over twenty different state and federal courts. In addition to representing insurers, airlines and aerospace manufacturers, Mr. Kaplan’s courtroom work has encompassed the full spectrum of civil litigation, including commercial litigation, contract disputes, licensing agreements, covenants not to compete and employment litigation. Mr. Kaplan’s peers have recognized his special trial skills, consistently voting him as an Illinois Leading Lawyer and Illinois Super Lawyer. He is part of a select group named to Who’s Who Legal, and he is AV® Preeminent™ Peer Review Rated in Martindale-Hubbell.

Mr. Kaplan’s notable trial successes include Appalachian v McDonnell Douglas, 214 Cal. App. 3rd, 1 (1989); Lexington v. McDonnell Douglas, the first jury trial in a U.S. court relating to a loss which occurred in outer space - two $200 million telecommunications satellites deployed into a useless orbit. Mr. Kaplan represented Morton Thiokol, Inc., the manufacturer of each satellite’s rocket motor, in the six month Orange County, California trial. Mr. Kaplan argued that Morton Thiokol reasonably tested and inspected each rocket motor in accordance with the state of the art of then current technology, in spite of density variations in the rocket motor exit cones being determined as the cause of the failed deployments. The jury agreed with Mr. Kaplan and after the six month trial found in favor of Morton Thiokol. This result was affirmed on appeal.

Mr. Kaplan represented forty-two London reinsurers in a lawsuit brought in federal court in the Southern District of New York by Allendale Insurance Co. for over $12 million in reinsurance proceeds (Allendale v Excess). Mr. Kaplan argued that Allendale had materially misrepresented the insurability of a warehouse in Seclin, France, which burned to the ground with over $100 million in stored computers which were totally destroyed. The trial before Judge Scheindlin resulted in a complete defense victory for the reinsurers.

McDonnell Douglas v Morton Thiokol, 124 F3rd 1173 (9th Cir. 1997), involved a breach of contract claim by McDonell Douglas against Morton Thiokol for over $17 million for a series of rocket motors which failed an updated quality control test and thus needed to be redesigned and replaced. The case was tried to a verdict before Federal Judge Rea in the Central District of California, who ruled that Morton Thiokol satisfied all of the contract terms and was thus entitled to a verdict in its favor and against McDonnell Douglas. This result was affirmed on appeal by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Other Significant Cases

  • Mr. Kaplan represented Morton Thiokol, Inc. in litigation arising from the explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger.
  • Mr. Kaplan has tried numerous cases to successful jury verdicts on behalf of Federal Express, Corp., including federal court employment litigation and catastrophic motor vehicle accidents.
  • Mr. Kaplan represented telecommunications corporation, Simulcomm, in a successful arbitration over technology licensing rights.
  • Mr. Kaplan has represented insurers of numerous national and international airlines in multi-million dollar subrogation recoveries.
  • Mr. Kaplan has tried numerous cases to verdict involving general aviation accidents, representing aircraft owners, pilots, fixed-base operators, maintenance facilities and airports. (See for example, Jarmuth v KWA Leasing, 321 Ill. App.3rd 690, 747 NE 2d 1014; a case Mr. Kaplan argued to the Illinois Court of Appeals, which held, for the first time, that in Illinois, the owner of an aircraft can delegate its duty under the Federal Aviation Regulations to maintain an aircraft in an airworthy condition.)

Published Legal Writings

  • Author: Complex Federal Litigation: An Attorney’s Guide to Management and Trial, a book published by Shepards/McGraw Hill.
  • Space-Specific Remedies for Torts in Outer Space: What Path Will U.S. Law Follow?, International Law Reporter, Winter, 1988.
  • Allocation of Risk Based on Fault: Is It Feasible for Satellite Losses?, International Bar Association, 1985.
  • Contribution Among Defendants: How & When to Get It, Journal of Air Law & Commerce, 1983.
  • Predicting the Application of Vicarious Liability to Fixed Base Operators: Still Guess Work After All These Years, Journal of Air Law and Commerce, fall, 1981.
  • Malfunction and Loss of Space Craft, Am Jur Trials, 1991.
  • Co-Author: Dark Clouds in the Sunny Skies of First-Party Property Insurance: Punitive Damages for Breach of Contract, Trial Lawyer’s Guide, fall, 1979.

Conference Speaking Engagements

  • Mr. Kaplan has been invited to be a featured speaker and to conduct mock trials at numerous conferences, and associations, including, SMU Aviation Law Symposium; Aviation Insurance Association; Embry-Riddle Aviation Law Symposium; and RIMS.

Awards and Honors

  • An Illinois Super Lawyer, as voted by his peers;
  • An Illinois Leading Lawyer, as voted by his peers;
  • Named in Who’s Who Legal Aviation
  • AV® Preeminent™ Peer Review Rated in Martindale-Hubbell