Arthur I. Willner - PartnerLos Angeles
For over 35 years, Arthur Willner's practice has emphasized the defense of high exposure, complex litigation arising from aviation, products liability, industrial accidents and premises liability, civil rights and commercial disputes. He is rated AV by Martindale-Hubbell and has been selected nine times by his peers as a Southern California Super Lawyer in the area of Civil Litigation Defense, an honor that fewer than five percent of attorneys receive.
Art has successfully represented clients in state and federal court in business cases involving claims of violations of civil rights, disability based discrimination, ethnic profiling, defamation, wrongful termination, breach of contract, and officer and director liability. He has served as lead defense counsel in numerous jury and non-jury trials, mediations and arbitrations, and also has substantial experience in multidistrict and mass tort litigation, including class actions. He has also argued multiple appeals before the Ninth Circuit and the California Court of Appeal.
He also has broad experience in products liability, wrongful death and catastrophic injury cases arising out of major airline and general aviation accidents. Art's aviation clients include major and regional domestic and foreign air carriers, pilots and other crewmembers, general aviation operations, and manufacturers. Art is also a former Vice President of United States Aviation Underwriters, Inc. where he supervised outside counsel in the defense of high exposure airline litigation, prepared witnesses to testify at National Transportation Safety Board hearings, and advised senior airline management on litigation and disaster planning issues.
Art’s practice also includes representing university faculty members and students whose civil rights have been violated by their educational institutions. He has been a part of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education’s legal network for many years, and is committed to protecting his clients’ rights in cases in which their educational future and employment are often on the line. Art has vigorously prosecuted actions in both state and federal court involving the violation of his clients' Due Process and First Amendment rights. Two of his recent cases have significantly clarified the due process rights of accused students at Title IX hearings and expanded the free speech rights of students attending the nine Los Angeles Community College campuses.
Some of Art’s representative cases include:
- The defense of an international airline in connection with the wrongful death actions arising out of a crash off the California coast. The cases were multi-districted in the Northern District of California.
- The defense of the pilot's estate in the litigation arising out of the death of Kobe Bryant, his daughter and the other passengers in the crash of a Sikorsky S76 helicopter in Calabasas, California on January 26, 2020.
- Summary judgment on behalf of a major domestic airline, affirmed on appeal, in a discrimination case in which an obese passenger was required to purchase two seats on a flight.
- Summary judgment on behalf of a major domestic airline in a case in which two Mexican-American law enforcement officers claimed to have been racially profiled as Middle Easterners.
- In a case receiving national media attention, represented a faculty member in the Central District of California whose First Amendment rights had been violated by his community college. The court ruled that the instructor’s classroom lecture constituted protected speech and Art obtained a six-figure settlement of his attorneys’ fees.
- Represented a Los Angeles community college student who had been prohibited from distributing a Spanish-language version of the U.S. Constitution on campus. The college required that the student first obtain a permit to hand out the pamphlet, and limited his expressive activity to a tiny campus “free speech zone.” The litigation ended in a settlement in which the Los Angeles Community College District abandoned its free speech zones and its requirement for a student to obtain a permit to exercise his First Amendment right to free speech.
- St. John’s University School of Law, J.D. (1981)
- Columbia University, B.A. (1976)
- New York
- U.S. Court of Appeals 9th Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals 2nd Circuit
- U.S. District Court Central District of California
- U.S. District Court Eastern District of California
- U.S. District Court Northern District of California
- U.S. District Court Southern District of California
- U.S. District Court Eastern District of New York
- U.S. District Court Southern District of New York
- Southern California Super Lawyer 2009-2019
- Who's Who Legal, in the area of Aviation Transport
- Microaggressions and the First Amendment, Los Angeles Daily Journal (July 6, 2015)
- Don't Allow Hecklers Veto, Los Angeles Daily Journal (April 10, 2015)
- Wrong Lesson in T-shirt Decision, Daily Journal (March 10, 2014)
- Professor Speech Finds Protection in 9th Circuit, For Now, Daily Journal (February 12, 2014)
Lectures & Speaking Engagements
- The Year in Aviation, 55th Annual SMU Air Law Symposium (March 24-25, 2021)