Christopher G Kelly

  • T 212.513.3264

Christopher G. Kelly focuses his practice on complex commercial litigation including aviation defense, defense of mass and toxic torts, product liability, class-actions (consumer, labor/employment, data privacy and cybersecurity) and insurance. In addition, Mr. Kelly has an international reputation for pioneering innovative and cost- effective strategies for risk minimization in both litigation and corporate transactions. His clients include domestic airlines, international carriers, food and chemical manufacturers, domestic and foreign insurers, and public and private companies in the professional and consumer services industries. Mr. Kelly has particular experience in representing clients facing potentially catastrophic liabilities; since 1990 he has successfully guided domestic and foreign clients to resolution, through trial, arbitration, negotiation or mediation of dozens of highly publicized claims that in total sought more than $30 billion in damages. Mr. Kelly is ranked in Chambers USA, where clients noted in particular his ability to "navigate problems large and small effectively."

Representative Matters


After successfully representing an international carrier in a 2000 crash involving more than 100 casualties, Mr. Kelly served as lead U.S. trial counsel in the disappearance of an international flight in May 2009, which resulted in the forum non conveniens dismissal of the 45 individual lawsuits brought in the U.S. He also was the architect and trial counsel to a domestic airline in its zero pay resolution of its 25 nationwide privacy breach class actions from 2005 to 2008, arising from allegations of violation of the airline's self-imposed privacy policies. Mr. Kelly has represented domestic and foreign air carriers in more than a hundred commercial and tort claims since 2000.

Class Actions

Mr. Kelly has represented clients across the country as lead trial counsel in putative class actions alleging carcinogenic exposure of six million putative class members stemming from West Nile virus spraying in New York City; Medfly spraying in Central Florida; privacy violations in the mobile application arena; breach of contract and consumer fraud claims; penalty wage claims; and unfair trade practice claims across multiple industries.

Commercial Litigation

Mr. Kelly has successfully prosecuted and defended actions in the state and federal courts ranging from bank fraud, shareholder disputes, distribution agreements, unfair competition, fraud, trademark and copyright infringement, various business torts, creditors' rights, bankruptcies and destruction of natural resources.

Mr. Kelly has been Holland & Knight's Litigation Practice Group Leader in New York since 2008, and has served since 2009 as one of 24 firmwide elected members of the firm's Directors Committee. Prior to becoming a lawyer, Mr. Kelly was employed as director of development at Regis High School, his alma mater, in New York City.  

Mr. Kelly served as moderator for Holland & Knight external CLE, "Data Privacy Breach." He has spoken yearly since 2008 at the City Bar Association of the City of New York "Developments in Commercial Division Practice" presentation. In addition, he has spoken at air finance seminars as well as led presentations and moderated panels at ABA TIPS and the ABA Air and Space Law Forum on litigation. Topics on which Mr. Kelly has spoken include demonstrative evidence, criminalization of negligence claims and the rights of secured creditors. He regularly speaks at conferences overseas for European insurers and their insureds on product liability litigation in the United States.

Honors & Awards

  • Chambers USA – America's Leading Business Lawyers guide, Transportation: Aviation: Litigation, 2011-2019
  • The Best of the Best USA, Aviation, Legal Media Group's Expert Guides, 2017
  • Guide to the World’s Leading Aviation Lawyers, Legal Media Group’s Expert Guides, 2013-2019
  • Who's Who Legal: Transport, Aviation Contentious, 2017-2019  
  • The Legal 500 USA, Litigation: Product Liability & Mass Tort Defense - Aerospace/Aviation, 2014, 2016
  • New York Super Lawyers magazine, 2013-2018
  • Client Service All-Star, The BTI Consulting Group, Inc., 2011
  • Best of the Best Aviation Lawyers, Euromoney Guide


  • The American-Scandinavian Foundation, Executive Trustee 
  • Saint Stephen of Hungary School Foundation, Board Member and General Counsel