Charles A. Tarpley
Attorney at Law


Ladd Sanger
Managing Partner, Slack Davis Sanger, LLP

Debra D. Fowler
Senior Aviation Counsel, Torts Branch, Civil Division, U.S. Department of Justice


William O’Connor
Partner, Cooley LLP

Garrett L. Pendleton
Vice President and Interim Europe, Middle East and Africa Regional Claims Manager, AIG Aerospace 


Pamela C. Hicks
Founding Shareholder, Hicks Davis Wynn, P.C.


Mr. Tarpley’s legal emphasis is in aviation and insurance matters domestically and abroad. He is admitted to practice in Texas, Illinois and New York, the United States Supreme Court, United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth, Seventh and Eleventh Circuits, numerous United States District Courts and the United States Tax Court.

He is a graduate of the Southern Methodist University School of Engineering, University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Business and the University of Texas School of Law.

Formerly he was the Senior Vice President and Secretary, Aviation Office of America, Inc., a subsidiary of the Xerox Corp. In addition, he was previously a trial attorney at Lord Bissell & Brook and an electrical engineer at General Electric.

Charles currently consults with policyholders and insurance companies on aviation insurance matters including coverage disputes and bad faith contentions. In addition, he frequently is retained as an expert witness in these areas. He has been a speaker at numerous aviation and insurance conferences in the United States and Europe.

Charles began his aviation career in the United States Air Force and flew twenty-six combat missions in Southeast Asia. His commercial career began at Pan American World Airways where he flew Boeing 707, 727 and 747 and Airbus A310 aircraft on six continents. With the sale of Pan Am’s European route structure to Delta Air Lines in 1991, Charles became a Delta pilot where he flew Boeing 727, Airbus A-310 and Lockheed 1011 aircraft. Charles was a Pan Am designated check airman and Delta pilot instructor and instructed extensively in Delta’s human factors and new-hire programs as well as the innovative Delta Pilot Instructor School.

Mr. Tarpley’s FAA aeronautical certificates include Airline Transport Pilot (with numerous type ratings), Flight Instructor (Multi & Single Engine Airplane, Instrument and Glider), Flight Engineer-Turbo Jet and Ground Instructor.

Charles is the Chair of the Southern Methodist University Air Law Symposium and serves on the Board of the Journal of Air Law & Commerce. In addition, he has taught Aviation Law as an Adjunct Professor of Law at the Dedman School of Law at Southern Methodist University. Charles is the past Chair of the David Bernard Memorial Foundation in Los Angeles.


Debra Fowler holds the position of Senior Aviation Counsel in the Torts Branch, Civil Division, United States Department of Justice. She is one of the Department’s senior litigators, defending the government in cases arising under the Federal Tort Claims Act.

Ms. Fowler joined the Department of Justice in 1990 as a Trial Attorney and held that position until being appointed Senior Aviation Counsel in 2001. She has represented the United States and its agencies, including the Federal Aviation Administration, the Drug Enforcement Agency, the United States Forest Service, the United States Air Force and the Army National Guard in numerous aviation cases in Federal District Courts in California, Colorado, Florida, Texas, Wyoming, New Mexico, Washington, New York, Arizona, Alaska, Hawaii and Guam. She was lead counsel for the United States in the matter In re Aircrash at Agana, Guam on August 6, 1997, the mulitdistrict litigation involving approximately 168 cases arising out of a Korean Air Lines 747 on the island of Guam.

In 1989, Ms. Fowler graduated from the University of Tulsa with a joint Master of Arts and Juris Doctorate degree. She is a member of the Virginia bar and is admitted to practice before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Ms. Fowler presently serves on the Southern Methodist University Air Law Symposium Board of Advisors. She served as the President of the International Aviation Women’s Association for the 2008-2009 term and continues to serve on the Board of Directors of that organization. She is Past Chair of the Aviation and Space Law Committee of the Tort, Trial and Insurance Practice Section of the American Bar Association. She has also served as the Chair of the Government Liability subcommittee of the Aviation Litigation committee, Litigation Section, and on the editorial board of the ABA publication “The Brief.” Additionally, she served as a faculty member of the American Bar Association Trial Academy in 2006. Ms. Fowler is frequently called upon to lecture at aviation and law conferences throughout the country.

View William O’Connor’s firm bio at the link below:


A Certified Litigation Management Professional, Garrett is the Vice President andInterim Europe, Middle East and Africa Regional Claims Manager responsible for the global oversight and management of all aviation claims and lawsuits at AIG Aerospace. In addition, Garrett is the Global Claims Manager for all aviation products liability claims and litigation. Garrett obtained his B.S., magna cum laude, from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, where he trained as a pilot, and his M.B.A. and J.D.,cum laude, from Stetson University.  A licensed attorney in Florida and Georgia, Garrett practiced law for eight years with large international law firms where he defended and tried a myriad of high stakes aviation, insurance and complex commercial lawsuits in state and federal courts across the United States and in international tribunals. Prior to entering private legal practice, Garrett spent a year as an intern to the Honorable Elizabeth Kovachevich and the Honorable Paul Pizzo in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida.

Before beginning his legal career, Garrett gained a significant background in aviation operations while on active duty in the United States Marine Corps, and subsequently as a civilian working with Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center in support of the National Science Foundation’s United States Antarctic Program’s aviation operations.  His global perspective is informed by AIG’s worldwide reach in international aviation, having lived and worked abroad for over a decade in Europe, the Middle East, the South Pacific and Antarctica, and having defended a multitude of international insurers and their insureds in litigation and arbitration proceedings across the globe.


Pam Hicks has an active aviation practice representing commercial air carriers, airframe manufacturers, fixed base operators, general aviation interests, helicopter operators, insurers, shippers, engine and component part manufacturers in accident litigation, product liability, and cargo claims at both the trial and appellate level. She has won several verdicts, including one for a major commercial airline in a venue named as one of America’s worst for defendants. 

In addition to her aviation practice, Pam represents clients in the oil and gas, public utility, real estate, finance, motor vehicle, correctional, and insurance industries. She also represents several clients in eminent domain matters and has extensive experience representing majority and minority interests in closely held corporations and partnerships. As lead counsel, she has successfully tried commercial and personal injury actions.

Pam is recognized as a Texas “Super Lawyer” from 2014 to the present by Super Lawyers®, a rating service that is part of Thomson Reuters.  Before that, she was recognized as “Rising Star” from 2005 to 2013.  Houstonia magazine named her as a Top Lawyer in Aviation, Admiralty, Maritime and Transportation in 2018.

Pam is a shareholder of Hicks Davis Wynn, P.C. based in Houston, Texas.  Prior to founding HDW, Pam was a partner at Beirne, Maynard & Parsons, LLP where she practiced law for 18 years. 

Thank you to these accomplished community members who offer their time, experience, and advice to the symposium.