A. Ilyas Akbari is a senior partner and bioengineer at Wilshire Law Firm. He is an experienced aviation litigator and director of the firm’s aviation litigation team, having worked on over 200 aviation cases since 2005. Ilyas has litigated crashes and incidents involving commercial airlines, charter operations, general aviation aircraft, military aircraft, seaplanes, and rescue and air ambulance aircraft, in addition to litigating product liability claims against many of the aircraft and component part manufacturers – this includes 29 cases against Robinson Helicopter Company, Inc.
The National Law Journal and ALM Media recognized Ilyas and his team in 2018 as Elite Trial Lawyers finalists in the Consumer Protection category for their achievement in representing the family of the only two American residents onboard Germanwings Flight 9525, whose co-pilot committed suicide by locking out the pilot and crashing the plane into the French Alps, killing all 150 souls. On the heels of the Daimler and Bristol-Myers Squibb opinions, and despite the airline not having any offices, employees, planes, equipment, routes or advertisements in the U.S., and never paying taxes in the U.S., he argued that Virginia’s long arm statute conferred personal jurisdiction over it because the German airline sold its tickets to passengers that resided in Virginia through its authorized agent and proxy, United Airlines. The Eastern District of Virginia agreed, in a published opinion, Selke v. Germanwings GmbH, 261 F. Supp. 3d 645 (E.D. Va. 2017).
Ilyas has served in numerous leadership positions and has represented clients in most of the major airline disasters, including the September 11 Litigation, American Airlines Flight 587, Air Midwest Flight 5481 (resulting in the first public apology by an airline), Southwest Airlines Flights 1248 and 1380, TACA Flight 390, Continental Airlines Flight 1404, Colgan Flight 3407, Asiana Airlines Flight 214 (only case proceeding to trial, settling prior to voir dire), Malaysia Air Flight 370 (MH370), Germanwings Flight 9525 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 (Boeing MAX8 litigation), among others.
Ilyas serves as Plaintiffs Vice Chair to the Aviation and Space Law General Committee of the American Bar Association and is, additionally, the Editor of the ABA Aviation and Space Law Committee Newsletter for the 2020 calendar year. He is also honored to serve as Fellow in the Litigation Counsel of America, an invitation-only trial lawyer honorary society representing less than one-half of one percent of American lawyers.
Best Lawyers in America® has recognized Ilyas in the Plaintiffs Product Liability Litigation category since 2016; Southern California Super Lawyers® has listed him as a top rated Aviation & Aerospace attorney since 2007. Additionally, Ilyas has been honored as a Southern California Super Lawyers® – Rising Stars, Up and Coming 100; the National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 Civil Plainiff Lawyers; the Aviation Trial Lawyers Association: Top 10; and Nations Top One Percent, National Association of Distinguished Counsel.
He has earned the highest AV® Preeminent™ Peer Review Rating through Lawyers.com / Martindale Hubbell®, the highest Avvo.com Superb Score of 10; and is listed in The Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers™, Martindale Hubbell®.
Ilyas earned his B.S. degree in Bioengineering in 2000 from U.C. San Diego. U.C. San Diego’s prestigious Bioengineering Department is consistently ranked as one of the top five programs in the world. While at U.C. San Diego, he was the founding Vice President of the International Society of Pharmaceutical Engineers. It was through this society that Ilyas met several scientist-attorneys, who inspired him to continue on to Southwestern University School of Law. While at Southwestern, he had the honor of serving as President of the Student Bar Association. He was also a Certified Law Clerk at the District Attorney’s Office in East Los Angeles, where he conducted preliminary hearings and misdemeanor trials.
Ilyas’ bioengineering degree has proven very beneficial. In fact, Ilyas is in his element when he can blend his expertise in science and law. Whether it is finding the mechanism of injury, understanding the lasting effects of traumatic brain injuries, or investigating and determining the engineering flaw that caused an aircraft crash, Ilyas devotes himself to the pursuit of truth through the scientific process.
Ilyas devotes much of his time studying the ever-evolving science as it relates to brain injuries. Nothing irritates Ilyas more than people who describe some brain injuries as “mild” – no injury to the brain is mild. He is an active participant and member of the National Brain Injury Trial Lawyers Association – Top 25, the Biomedical Engineering Society, North American Brain Injury Society, Brain Injury Association of America, and the California Brain Injury Association.
In addition to aviation cases, Ilyas has been involved in many high profile crashes involving trains, buses, tractor trailers, school buses, and duck boats, including the 2015 Duckboat crash in Seattle, which resulted in a $20 million verdict for two college-aged boys in Austria that lost their mother while she was vacationing in Seattle.
Ilyas also represented clients in some of the largest rail disasters in the country, including the 2017 Amtrak Cascades 501 derailment near DuPont, Washington; the 2015 Amtrak 188 derailment cases in Philadelphia; the 2012 CSX coal train derailment in Ellicott City, Maryland; and was on the leadership team that litigated the two largest commuter rail disasters in Southern California: the 2005 Glendale crash and the 2008 collision in Chatsworth.
Never one to back down from a challenge or an injustice, Ilyas has also successfully taken on pharmaceutical companies, and has been court-appointed to serve, on behalf of all filed cases, as a member of the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committees for the Bisphenol-A (BPA) Polycarbonate Plastic Products Liability Litigation and the Heparin Products Liability Multi District Litigation (MDL).
Ilyas is often called upon by the media to comment on his cases or the news of the day, and has appeared over 2,000 times internationally in tv, print and radio.
One of the roles that Ilyas takes most seriously is that of mentor to younger attorneys or attorneys that are inexperienced and need advice, which is why he is called upon and speaks at conferences and conventions all over the world, so that other lawyers can learn and better represent their clients. He is known for freely taking the calls of attorneys that he does not know in order to assist them on various issues. This included a firm that needed help on a rapidly approaching brain injury trial, so Ilyas traveled to Trinidad, Colorado where he acted as consulting counsel (free of charge) for a firm that represented a high school student that suffered a brain injury during football practice, resulting in a $11.5 million verdict in 2013 (Ridolfi v. Riddell).
Ilyas has helped recover awards and settlements totaling over $350,000,000.
- J.D., Southwestern University School of Law
- B.S., Bioengineering, University of California at San Diego
- State Bar of California
- Supreme Court of California
- US District Court for the Central District of California
- US District Court for the Northern District of California
- US District Court for the Eastern District of California
- US District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana
- US District Court for the Northern District of Ohio
- US District Court for the Western District of Missouri
- US District Court for the Western District of New York
- US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
Awards & Leadership Roles
- The Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers™, Martindale Hubbell®
- AV® Preeminent™ Peer Review Rating, Lawyers.com / Martindale Hubbell®
- Avvo.com Superb Score of 10
- Plaintiff Vice Chair to the Aviation and Space Law General Committee of the American Bar Association, 2019-Present
- Editor, American Bar Association Aviation and Space Law Committee Newsletter, 2020
- Elite Trial Lawyer Finalist, Consumer Protection Category, The National Law Journal and ALM Media for Germanwings opinion, 2018
- Nations Top One Percent, National Association of Distinguished Council, 2017-Present
- Fellow, Litigation Counsel of America, The Trial Lawyer Honor Society, 2016-Present
- Aviation Trial Lawyers Association: Top 10, 2016-Present
- National Brain Injury Trial Lawyers Association – Top 25
- National Trial Lawyers, Top 100, 2016-Present
- Best Lawyers in America® – Plaintiffs Product Liability Litigation, 2016-Present
- Southern California Super Lawyers® – Rising Stars, Up and Coming 100, 2016
- Southern California Super Lawyers® – Rising Stars, Top List, 2015
- Southern California Super Lawyers® – Aviation & Aerospace, 2007-Present
- Southern California Super Lawyers® – Rising Stars, 2007-2016
- American Association for Justice
- Leader’s Forum
- Aviation Law Section
- Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Section
- Trucking Section
- Products Liability Section
- Railroad/Highway Crossing & Derailment Litigation Group
- American Bar Association
- Aviation and Space Law Committee
- Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section
- Litigation Section
- Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles (CAALA)
- Consumer Attorneys of California (CAOC)
- Lawyer-Pilots Bar Association
- Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA)
- Biomedical Engineering Society
- North American Brain Injury Society
- Brain Injury Association of America
- California Brain Injury Association
- Leadership Member, Ad hoc, Asiana Airlines Flight OZ214, MDL-2497, In Re: Air Crash at San Francisco and July 6, 2013
- Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee, MDL-2085, In Re: Air Crash Near Clarence Center, New York, on February 12, 2009 (Colgan Air dba Continental Connection)
- Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee, MDL-1967, In Re: Bisphenol-A (BPA) Polycarbonate Plastic Products Liability Litigation, 2009
- Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee, MDL-1953, In Re: Heparin Product Liability Litigation, 2009
- Leadership Group, East Coast Jets, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, July 31, 2008
- President, Student Bar Association, Southwestern University School of Law, 2002
- Founding Vice-President, International Society of Pharmaceutical Engineers, University of California at San Diego
Publications & Speaking Engagements:
- Minimum Equipment List: The Essentials of an Aviation Products-Liability Case, Advocate Magazine June 2020
- Recent Developments in Personal Jurisdiction for Aviation Cases, ABA TIPS Aviation and Space Law Newsletter: Winter 2020
- Preservation, Discovery, Subpoenas and Metadata: Court Rules, Case Law and Recent Developments, “Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Email, and Smartphone Evidence: The Ultimate Guide”, National Business Institute seminar, January 2020
- Laying a Foundation: Real-World Scripts/Examples, “Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Email, and Smartphone Evidence: The Ultimate Guide”, National Business Institute seminar, January 2020
- Traversing the Minefield: Overcoming Procedural Obstacles in Aviation Cases, ABA TIPS Aviation Litigation, October, 2019
- Pro-Plaintiff Decisions Post – Daimler & Bristol-Myers, ABA TIPS Aviation Litigation, October 2019
- Liability of Airlines in Intentional Downing of Aircraft, American Association for Justice 2017 Annual Convention, July 2017
- Pro-Plaintiff Decisions Post – Daimler, “Tips From Cockpit to Courtroom”, ABA TIPS Aviation and Space Law Committee meeting, November 2016
- Current Issues of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and Drones, American Association for Justice 2016 Annual AAJ-PAPERS 44, July 2016
- A Global View: What’s New in Aviation and Space Law – Litigation in the U.S. and Abroad, American Bar Association, 2014 ABA TIPS Aviation and Space Law Committee Conference
- The Exclusionary Rule in Strict Liability Cases: A Defect in the Law, American Association for Justice, Products Liability Newsletter Vol.15, No.1, Fall 20101
- Inversiones Papluchi S.A.S. et al, Petitioners v. Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Respondent; Robinson Helicopter Company, Inc., et al., Real Parties in Interest, 20 Cal.App.5th 1055 (Feb 14 2018 CA App 2nd) \[Preemptory writ of mandate issued overturning and directing trial court to vacate its prior order denying plaintiffs’ Colombian corporations’ motion to quash service of summons and motion to dismiss cross-complaints, and to issue a new order *granting* plaintiffs’ motion to quash and motion to dismiss cross-complaints against them, dismissing Robinson Helicopter Company, Inc. (for failure to timely effect service within 3 years of filing cross-complaint), Rolls-Royce Corporation and Honeywell (for each failing to adhere to article 19 of the Hague Service Convention)]; the case is often cited as a primer on how to effectuate service of process according to the Hague Service Convention.
- Selke v. Germanwings GMBH, 261 F.Supp.3d 645 (E.D. Va 2017) (Virginia court agreed with Ilyas that it had personal jurisdiction over a German airline despite the airline not having any offices, employees, planes, equipment, routes or advertisements in the U.S., and never paying taxes in the U.S., in that Virginia’s long arm statute conferred personal jurisdiction over the German airline because it sold its tickets to passengers that resided in Virginia through its authorized agent and proxy, United Airlines; Ilyas represented the family of the only two Americans onboard Germanwings Flight 9525 from Barcelona, Spain to Düsseldorf, Germany, whose co-pilot committed suicide by locking out the pilot and crashing the plane into the French Alps, killing all 150 souls.
Notable Media Appearances:
- Bloomberg TV
- Bloomberg TV Asia
- KCBS News Los Angeles
- KCAL News Los Angeles
- KNBC News Los Angeles
- Fox 11 News
- KTTV Fox 11 News Los Angeles
- KNX 1070 Newsradio CBS Los Angeles
- KQED Public Radio for Northern California
- Andrews Litigation Reporters
- Associated Press
- Athletic Business
- Bloomberg BNA
- Los Angeles Times
- Mealey’s Emerging Drugs and Devices
- National Law Journal
- Seattle Times
- Sports Business Daily
- USA Today
- Westlaw Journal, Products Liability
- $105,000,000 – Pharmaceutical
- $20,000,000 – VERDICT (Duckboat)
- $18,000,000 – Military Helicopter
- $18,000,000 – Whistleblower
- $16,500,000 – Bone Morphogenic Protein Manufacturer
- $15,000,000 – Pedestrian v. Freight Truck
- $11,500,000 – Football
- $10,850,000 – Helicopter
- $10,500,000 – Helicopter
- $10,000,000 – School Bus
- $9,000,000 – Helicopter
- $7,500,000 – Helicopter
- $6,500,000 – Private Jet
- $6,000,000 – Garbage Truck
- $4,500,000 – Airline
- $3,500,000 – Train
- $3,500,000 – VERDICT (Pharmaceutical)
- $3,036,000 – Truck
- $2,800,000 – Train
- $2,750,000 – Helicopter
- $2,100,000 – Airline
- $2,000,000 – Train
- $2,000,000 – Several Dozen 7-Figure Cases