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Spirit AeroSystems Prime Lawyer Exits as Buyer Boeing Struggles

Spirit AeroSystems Holdings Inc. is looking for a top new lawyer as the fuselage maker faces financial repercussions due to the struggles of its largest customer, Boeing Co.

Stacy Cozad, who served five years as General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer at Spirit, will join specialty chemicals company Ingevity Inc. on February 1 as General Counsel and Company Secretary. Cozad declined to discuss her new position, which was announced on January 13th.

Mindy McPheeters, vice president of legal and compliance and former Stinson partner, will serve as Spirit’s interim general counsel as he conducts a search to fill Cozad’s C-suite role, company spokeswoman Molly Edwards told Bloomberg Law.

Spirit was until its sale to the private investment firm Onex Corp. part of Boeing’s commercial aircraft unit in 2005, which the company floated on the stock exchange the following year.

However, last year Spirit and other aircraft suppliers struggled as Boeing suffered from the lengthy global landing of its 737 MAX aircraft.

After laying off thousands of employees last year after hull production for the troubled 737 was interrupted, Spirit recently announced it would employ nearly 450 people as the manufacturer looks to further reduce demand due to reported structural defects in the 787 Dreamliner prepared by Boeing.

Boeing’s 737 returned to heaven in December, but its legal challenges continued this month. The aviation giant locked out a $ 2.5 billion fraud settlement related to the 737 and handled the crash of an older model airplane in Indonesia.

Boeing, which set up a new General Counsel last year, took over the role of former longtime legal chief at Coca-Cola Co. earlier this month.

Ingevity supplements

Spirit hired Cozad after serving as Associate General Counsel with Southwest Airlines Co. She spent nearly a decade at Southwest after working for two Texas-based law firms including Carrington, Coleman, Sloman & Blumenthal in Dallas.

Cozad was not among the top five highest-paid executives for the Wichita, Canada-based company in 2019 according to a power of attorney filed for that fiscal year. She currently owns nearly $ 962,000 worth of Spirit shares, according to Bloomberg data.

Spirit announced in a securities filing filed on December 1 that the 20% pay cuts made last year by top managers due to the coronavirus pandemic and the founding of the 737 have been restored.

At Ingevity, Cozad will replace former General Counsel and Company Secretary Katherine Pryor Burgeson, who took early retirement on August 1 following a pandemic wage cut. A securities filing on July 7th announced that Burgeson had left the company with a lump sum of $ 415,000.

Burgeson received more than $ 1.4 million in total compensation from Ingevity in 2019 and currently owns $ 1.41 million in company stock, according to Bloomberg data. She did not respond to a request for comment on her departure.

Ingevity spokeswoman Laura Woodcock said interim general counsel Ryan Fisher will stay with the North Charleston, SC-based company and report to Cozad. Fisher was previously the legal head of Ingevity’s performance chemicals business.

Lynn Robinson, an in-house attorney and former chief data officer for global manufacturing at Royal Dutch Shell PLC, joined Ingevity last year as director of data strategy and governance. Woodcock said that despite her legal background, Robinson works in Ingevity’s information technology unit.

Take flight

In-house lawyers are on the move in other areas of the aviation industry that were hard hit in 2020 due to Covid-19. They include:

  • Rolls-Royce Holdings PLC announced on January 11th the hiring of Daniel Antal, General Counsel of the Civil Group at Leidos Holdings Inc. of Reston, Virginia, as General Counsel for its Defense business and Rolls-Royce North America. Antal will be based in Washington. Rolls-Royce is a major supplier of aircraft engines.
  • United Airlines Inc. hired Sidley Austin corporate partner E. Anna Ha of Houston this month as assistant general counsel and company secretary. The Chicago-based airline, which cut thousands of jobs last year, also hired former Honigman antitrust partner Jennifer Schwab as an antitrust and global competition advisor in Windy City in November.
  • Panasonic Avionics Corp. announced the hiring of Jenner & Block partner Abby Bried as the new General Counsel on November 18. Bried, who served as Associate General Counsel at United Airlines before joining Jenner in 2017, reports to Jessica Hodkinson, General Counsel of Panasonic Corp. in North America. Bried succeeds Kimberly Chainey, who left Panasonic Avionics in July to become President of AptarGroup Inc., a drug packaging company based in Crystal Lake, Illinois.

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