Breach of contract

October 28, 2009
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Trial Report

Aviation Professionals Institute, LLC v. Gary/ Chicago International Airport Authority

Lake Superior Court -  No. 45D04-0711-CC-00187

Injuries: Lost future profits

Date: Apr. 27 - May. 1, 2009

Judge or Jury Trial: Jury Trial

Judge: Hon. Gerald N. Svetanoff

Disposition: Defense verdict

Plaintiff Attorney(s): John A. Sopuch III and Shawn Collins, Collins Law Firm, Naperville, Ill.; George Paras, Merrillville

Defendant Attorney(s): Nelson Nettles, Joseph Maguire, and Richard Norris, Norris Choplin & Schroeder, Indianapolis; Patrick Lyp, Blachly Tabor Bozik & Hartman, Valparaiso

Case Information: This was an aviation case involving a contract between the Gary/Chicago International Airport and a fixed base operator, Aviation Professionals Institute. In 2002, API signed a 10-year large hangar lease (with two 5-year options) to operate a flight school at the Gary airport. In 2005, API wished to expand into a full-service FBO, offering additional services including the sale of aviation fuel. In December 2005, the airport board approved API to become a full-service FBO; however the airport believed the terms of the contract amendment remained to be worked out and put into writing. The original lease had an integration clause requiring amendments be in writing and signed. On cross-motions for summary judgment the trial court ruled that a contract amendment existed as of the December 2005 board approval, despite the integration clause. Interlocutory appeal was denied.

The Gary airport had understood API`s plan as selling AVGAS (100 LL) the first year, and expanding into jet fuel in future years once another jet fuel tank was installed. When API learned in January 2006 that the airport would not allow them to share the existing jet fuel tanks with the other FBO, API claimed the airport breached the contract. Ultimately, API never sold aviation fuel of any kind and was evicted from the airport for the failure to pay rent by the end of 2006.
API filed an administrative complaint with the Federal Aviation Administration, which was denied. API also filed a federal court action with federal and state antitrust claims. That action was dismissed by the federal court. Then in November 2007, API filed this breach of contract action in Lake County, seeking $15 million dollars in lost future profits through 2022, the remainder of the lease term.

The jury trial concerned whether the amended contract was breached, whether API`s performance was excused, and whether a breach caused API any lost future profits. The judge allowed the jury to consider the entire future lease period for future profits, leaving to the jury to decide when such evidence became speculative. Expert testimony was the sole evidence for and against lost future profits. James Alerding, Clifton Gunderson, testified for API. Dan Ochse of Jacobs Consultancy testified for the airport. The jury deliberated 2 hours and 15 minutes before returning a verdict for the Gary airport.

 - Nelson Nettles


  • contract dispute
    I need an experienced attorney to handle a breach of contract matter. Kindly respond for more details. Graham Young

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  1. I think the cops are doing a great job locking up criminals. The Murder rates in the inner cities are skyrocketing and you think that too any people are being incarcerated. Maybe we need to lock up more of them. We have the ACLU, BLM, NAACP, Civil right Division of the DOJ, the innocent Project etc. We have court system with an appeal process that can go on for years, with attorneys supplied by the government. I'm confused as to how that translates into the idea that the defendants are not being represented properly. Maybe the attorneys need to do more Pro-Bono work

  2. We do not have 10% of our population (which would mean about 32 million) incarcerated. It's closer to 2%.

  3. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  4. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  5. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.