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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

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

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  1. From his recent appearance on WRTV to this story here, Frank is everywhere. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy, although he should stop using Eric Schnauffer for his 7th Circuit briefs. They're not THAT hard.

  2. They learn our language prior to coming here. My grandparents who came over on the boat, had to learn English and become familiarize with Americas customs and culture. They are in our land now, speak ENGLISH!!

  3. @ Rebecca D Fell, I am very sorry for your loss. I think it gives the family solace and a bit of closure to go to a road side memorial. Those that oppose them probably did not experience the loss of a child or a loved one.

  4. If it were your child that died maybe you'd be more understanding. Most of us don't have graves to visit. My son was killed on a state road and I will be putting up a memorial where he died. It gives us a sense of peace to be at the location he took his last breath. Some people should be more understanding of that.

  5. Can we please take notice of the connection between the declining state of families across the United States and the RISE OF CPS INVOLVEMENT??? They call themselves "advocates" for "children's rights", however, statistics show those children whom are taken from, even NEGLIGENT homes are LESS likely to become successful, independent adults!!! Not to mention the undeniable lack of respect and lack of responsibility of the children being raised today vs the way we were raised 20 years ago, when families still existed. I was born in 1981 and I didn't even ever hear the term "CPS", in fact, I didn't even know they existed until about ten years ago... Now our children have disagreements between friends and they actually THREATEN EACH OTHER WITH, "I'll call CPS" or "I'll have [my parent] (usually singular) call CPS"!!!! And the truth is, no parent is perfect and we all have flaws and make mistakes, but it is RIGHTFULLY OURS - BY THE CONSTITUTION OF THIS GREAT NATION - to be imperfect. Let's take a good look at what kind of parenting those that are stealing our children are doing, what kind of adults are they producing? WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENS TO THE CHILDREN THAT HAVE BEEN RIPPED FROM THEIR FAMILY AND THAT CHILD'S SUCCESS - or otherwise - AS AN ADULT.....

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