Temple Law alumnus Alan Wolk ‘68 is the founding partner of The Wolk Law Firm
in Philadelphia. The firm, which concentrates its practice in the area of
aviation law, has represented victims in dozens of significant aviation
tragedies over the past 35 years. The firm’s success is evidenced in verdicts
and settlements of nearly $1 billion during the last decade alone.
In representing victims of aviation accidents, Wolk brings his personal
experience to the courtoom. Wolk himself has been a pilot for more than 30 years
and holds the Federal Aviation Administration’s highest pilot’s certificate, the
Airline Transport Pilot for multi-engine land and sea aircraft, and
single-engine land and sea airplanes. He has thousands of hours of flight
experience and has also flown in air shows throughout the country. In 1996, the
Panther jet Wolk was flying developed engine trouble on a flight from Kalamazoo,
Michigan. Wolk managed to guide his crippled aircraft away from populated areas
before he crashed. Now recovered from the injuries he incurred, Wolk says he is
keenly aware of what the flight crew experiences in an airplane crash and the
human and mechanical factors that contribute to it.
That expertise has made Wolk a leading figure in aviation law, responsible
for nearly $1 billion in verdicts and settlements in the past decade. One recent
verdict in particular stands out - an $89 million award against Avco Corporation
in Pridgen v. Avco Corp. for a defective carburetor in a 1999 plane
crash that killed three people and severely injured a fourth. Wolk
predicts that delay damages from the defendant’s appeals will raise the total to
well over $100 million.
The verdict in Pridgen was significant not only because of the size
of the award, but because it was decided under the General Aviation
Revitalization Act of 1994. This federal statute imposes a statute of repose on
lawsuits against aircraft and their component manufacturers eighteen years after
the product is first sold. Wolk argued the case under the “knowing
misrepresentation” exception to that statute, which requires a claimant to show
that a manufacturer knowingly misrepresented essential information to the FAA
that relates to the safety of the product. The jury in the case agreed with Wolk
and held Lycoming Engines liable for defect, negligence and conduct justifying
the imposition of punitive damages. The compensatory damages totaled just shy of
twenty-five million dollars and punitive damages of sixty-four million were then
awarded in a separate jury deliberation after the defendant’s net worth of six
hundred forty-five million was disclosed by stipulation.
Wolk earned a B.S. cum laude from Temple University in 1965 and remained at
Temple to earn a J.D. in 1968. He was honored by the law school as its 2005
Founder’s Day award recipient, and teaches a course in aviation law as an
adjunct member of the faculty.
Class of 1968