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Michael Terhar - Pasadena, CA

2 N. Lake AvenueSuite 550 Pasadena, CA 91101

Super Lawyers®


Updated: 01/26/2021

Pasadena Aviation-accident cases, representing airlines, aircraft manufacturers, airports and aviation-related businesses Lawyer


Mike Terhar heads Cunningham Swaim’s California office located in Pasadena. With more than 30 years of litigation experience, his litigation work is as diverse as California itself — from aviation litigation, to product and premises liability cases, to accidents involving sports and recreation. Mike has handled numerous cases in the movie industry — most notably his defense of director John Landis in wrongful death lawsuits related to the filming of the “Twilight Zone” movie in 1983...

About Michael Terhar

Practice Areas

  • Aviation-accident cases, representing airlines, aircraft manufacturers, airports and aviation-related businesses
  • Representation of major entertainment industry companies, producers and individuals in a variety of claims for wrongful death and personal injuries
  • Personal injury and wrongful death cases involving product and premises liability
  • General liability including discrimination
  • Complex civil litigation

Current Employment Position(s)

  • Partner


  • English (Primary)


Bar Admissions

  • California, 1979
  • U.S. District Court Central District of California, 1980
  • U.S. District Court Northern District of California, 1980
  • U.S. District Court Eastern District of California, 1980
  • U.S. District Court Southern District of California, 1980
  • U.S. Supreme Court, 1983
  • U.S. District Court Western District of Washington

Other Affiliations

  • State Bar of California
  • American Bar Association (Litigation, Law Practice Management, and Air and Space Law Divisions)
  • Defense Research Institute (Product Liability Committee and Sports Law Special Litigation Group)
  • Association of Southern California Defense Counsel
  • Litigation Counsel of America (Founding Fellow)


  • Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, California, 1979
  • University of Washington, 1975

Pro Bono Activities

  • Metropolitan YMCA of Los Angeles Golden Book of Distinguished Service 2011
  • North Valley Family YMCA Lifetime Achievement Award 2011
  • North Valley Family YMCA Volunteer of the Year 2007
  • North Valley Family YMCA Board Chairman 2005-2008
  • AYSO Volunteer Soccer Referee


Other Sources of Feedback About Michael Terhar

Included on the 2023 Southern California list

Past Lists

  • 2022 Southern California Super Lawyers list
  • 2021 Southern California Super Lawyers list
  • 2020 Southern California Super Lawyers list
  • 2019 Southern California Super Lawyers list
  • 2018 Southern California Super Lawyers list
  • 2017 Southern California Super Lawyers list
  • 2016 Southern California Super Lawyers list
  • 2015 Southern California Super Lawyers list
  • 2014 Southern California Super Lawyers list
  • 2013 Southern California Super Lawyers list
  • 2012 Southern California Super Lawyers list
  • 2011 Southern California Super Lawyers list
  • 2010 Southern California Super Lawyers list
  • 2009 Southern California Super Lawyers list
  • 2008 Southern California Super Lawyers list
  • 2007 Southern California Super Lawyers list
  • 2006 Southern California Super Lawyers list

View the profile for Michael Terhar on Super Lawyers


  • AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell, its highest rating in ethics and ability, for over 20 years
  • Named a Southern California Super Lawyer by Thomson Reuters from 2006-Present

Video & Photo


Office Information


2 N. Lake AvenueSuite 550 Pasadena, CA 91101



  • Pesses v Superior Court (1980) 107 Cal.App.3rd 117, 165 Cal.Rptr. 680. Denial of remand/transfer to county of filing for damage trial following determination of liability in coordinated cases arising from PSA crash is not an abuse of discretion
  • PT Airfast Services, Indonesia v. Superior Court (1983) 139 Cal.App.3rd 162, 188 Cal.Rptr. 628. Employer-paid charter flight on foreign airline was not part of employee-paid round trip to/from United States sufficient to confer Warsaw jurisdiction at the US destination regarding crash of charter flight
  • Martin ex rel. Heckman v. Midwest Express Holdings, Inc. (2009) 555 F.3rd 806. Federal preemption does not apply to design of aircraft airstairs prohibiting application of state product liability law as there were no standards to be applied to the design of the airstairs when the type certificate for the original design was approved by the FAA

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