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Claim against the State for Aviation Accidents was rejected

When claims for losses resulting from aviation accidents are made, it is common to add the State as a co-defendant. The allegations against the State usually refer to failure of the State to enforce aviation regulations or negligence in applying the regulations.

In C.C. 1430/96 Aharony v. Omni Horizon Ltd. et al, the Jerusalem District Court rejected such a claim against the State. We believe that the reasoning of the judgment, will make it much more difficult to succeed in claims against the State in the future.

In the Aharony case, a company owning a small aircraft, was sued by its flight instructor for bodily injuries he sustained as a result of an aviation accident while piloting the company`s aircraft. The owner of the small aircraft involved in the accident, alleged that once the State regulates the operations of small aircrafts, it must do so properly and take into consideration the fact that aircrafts` owners would rely on it to compile regulations to the highest extent of safety. The allegation continues that the State aught to anticipate that aircraft owners would not initiate any additional independent measures of precaution, beyond those provided for in the framework of the legislator`s regulations.

The Judge rejected this argument. The Judge distinguished between the obligations of the State and actions that are merely within the authority of the State. While failure to perform or negligent performance of an obligation imposed on the State may result in liability in tort, the mere failure to exercise an authority granted to the State may not impose liability on the State. The fact that the State has authority to regulate small aircrafts does not excuse the owner of the aircraft who acted negligently from tort liability.

Since most allegations against the State involve matters which are within the authority of the State, but not matters which involve obligation of the State, we expect that in the future it will be more difficult to succeed in claims against the State.

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