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IN RE AIRCRASH DISASTER NEAR ROSELAWN

May 6, 1996

IN RE AIRCRASH DISASTER NEAR ROSELAWN, INDIANA ON OCTOBER 31, 1994


The opinion of the court was delivered by: CASTILLO

 Defendants' motion requesting a ruling as to the substantive law applicable to the issue of compensatory damages is presently before the Court in these consolidated actions arising out of the tragic and fatal crash of American Eagle Flight 4184 near Roselawn Indiana on October 31, 1994. Specifically, the Airline and ATR defendants *fn1" (collectively "defendants") seek a determination that Indiana law governs the issue of compensatory damages in six cases involving Indiana decedents. *fn2" In response to defendants' motion, plaintiffs argue that Illinois law should govern the issue of compensatory damages in these six cases. For the reasons that follow, defendants' motion for a choice of law ruling applying Indiana law to the issue of compensatory damages is granted.

 RELEVANT FACTS3

 American Eagle Flight 4184 was carried by an Avions de Transport Regional (ATR) aircraft built in France. During the course of its operations by Simmons Airlines (d/b/a American Eagle), the aircraft was serviced in six states including Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Texas, and Washington. On October 31, 1994, prior to the accident, the aircraft flew trips from Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Chicago, Illinois; from Chicago to Lansing, Michigan; from Lansing back to Chicago; and from Chicago to Indianapolis, Indiana. The aircraft's final flight was the fatal flight, Flight 4184, a scheduled non-stop flight from Indianapolis to Chicago, during which the aircraft crashed in Indiana near the town of Roselawn, about 10 miles from the Illinois border. *fn4" Flight 4184's flight crew, which was Chicago-based, first picked up the aircraft in Chicago, and flew the trip from Chicago to Indianapolis immediately preceding the accident flight. The captain of Flight 4184 was Orlando Aguiar, a resident of Round Lake Park, Illinois; the first officer was Jeffrey Gagliano, a resident of Eagle, Wisconsin.

 Each of the decedents in the subject actions were domiciled in Indiana on the date of the accident. *fn5" Defendants represent to the Court that each decedent's estate is being administered in Indiana, see Defs.' Mem. Supp. Mot. for Choice of Law Ruling at 9, and plaintiffs do not dispute this contention. In this vein, defendants further note that all of the personal representatives of the estates and virtually all of the potential beneficiaries are Indiana residents. *fn6" Three of the decedents, Messrs. Cunningham, MacDonald, and Snyder, were employed by Delco Electronics in Kokomo, Indiana. Mr. Cunningham's surviving wife and three adult children are domiciled in Indiana. Similarly, Mr. MacDonald's surviving wife and minor child are domiciled in Indiana and Mr. Snyder's surviving wife and two adult children are domiciled in Indiana. Ms. Guba worked as an intermittent employee for the Joint Commission for the Accreditation of Healthcare ("Commission"), which is headquartered in Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois, and she also worked part-time for a Veterans Administration Hospital located in Indiana. Her surviving mother and two of her adult sisters are domiciled in Indiana; two other adult siblings are domiciled in California. Ms. Ferryman was employed by American Drug Stores in Oakbrook, Illinois. Her surviving husband and adult children are domiciled in Indiana.

 At the time of the accident, Messrs. Cunningham, MacDonald and Snyder were traveling on business for Delco Electronics, a subsidiary of General Motors. These men were en route from Indianapolis to Sao Paolo, Brazil, with connections through Chicago and Miami, and with a return flight to Indianapolis, with connections through Miami and Nashville. They purchased their tickets through Delco, and the tickets were issued through a General Motors travel agent located in Michigan. Ms. Guba was traveling on business for the Commission from Indianapolis to Pittsburgh, with a connection through Chicago. She purchased her ticket through the Commission, and the ticket was issued through a travel agency located in Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois, which is used by the Commission. Ms. Ferryman was travelling on business from Indianapolis to Chicago for a meeting at American Drug Stores in Oakbrook, Illinois, with a return ticket to Indianapolis. She purchased her ticket through American Drug Stores, and the ticket was issued through a travel agency located in Oakbrook, Illinois, that is used by American Drug Stores.

 ANALYSIS

 As this Court's first opinion in this multidistrict litigation indicates, federal jurisdiction over these cases arises under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act ("FSIA"). See In re Aircrash Disaster Near Roselawn, Indiana on October 31, 1994, 909 F. Supp. 1083 (N.D. Ill. 1995). Thus, the rules of Erie R.R. v. Tompkins, 304 U.S. 64, 78, 82 L. Ed. 1188, 58 S. Ct. 817 (1938) (federal court exercising diversity jurisdiction must apply the substantive law of the forum state) and Klaxon Co. v. Stentor Electric Mfg. Co., 313 U.S. 487, 496, 85 L. Ed. 1477, 61 S. Ct. 1020 (1941) (federal court exercising diversity jurisdiction must apply the choice of law rules of the forum state) do not directly apply. In FSIA actions, courts are divided as to whether the forum state's choice of law rules should apply or whether federal common law should govern. Compare Chuidian v. Philippine Nat'l Bank, 976 F.2d 561, 564 (9th Cir. 1992) (finding that in the FSIA context "federal common law choice of law rules apply, not the choice of law rules of the forum state"), and Schoenberg v. Exportadora de Sal, S.A. de C.V., 930 F.2d 777, 782 (9th Cir. 1991) (finding that where jurisdiction is based on the FSIA, federal common law applies to the choice of law determination) with Barkanic v. General Admin. of Civil Aviation of the People's Republic of China, 923 F.2d 957, 959-61 (2d Cir. 1991) (finding that "forum law provides the proper choice of law rules for FSIA cases"). In the instant case, however, the issue of whether to apply federal common law or the law of Illinois (where these cases were originally filed) is of no consequence because both Illinois and federal common law look to the Restatement (Second) of Conflict of Laws ("Second Restatement") for deciding choice of law questions. See Ingersoll v. Klein, 46 Ill. 2d 42, 262 N.E.2d 593 (1970) (adopting the Second Restatement's most significant relationship test); Esser v. McIntyre, 169 Ill. 2d 292, 661 N.E.2d 1138, 1141, 214 Ill. Dec. 693 (1996) (noting Illinois' adoption of the most significant relationship test); Schoenberg, 930 F.2d at 782 ("Federal common law follows the approach of the Restatement (Second) of Conflict of Laws."); see also Pfizer, Inc. v. Elan Pharmaceutical Research Corp., 812 F. Supp. 1352, 1359-60 (D. Del. 1993) (citing cases). Accordingly, this Court shall apply the Second Restatement's most significant relationship test in determining what law governs the issue of compensatory damages in these six actions.

 Under the Second Restatement, as a general matter, "the rights and liabilities of the parties with respect to an issue in tort are determined by the local law of the state which, with respect to that issue, has the most significant relationship to the occurrence and the parties under the principles stated in § 6." RESTATEMENT (SECOND) OF CONFLICT OF LAWS ("SECOND RESTATEMENT") § 145(1). Section 6, in turn, states that:

 
the factors relevant to the choice of the applicable rule of law include[:]
 
(a) the needs of the interstate and international systems,
 
(b) the relevant policies of the forum,
 
(c) the relevant policies of other interested states and the relative interests of those states in the determination of the particular issue,
 
(d) the protection of justified expectations,
 
(e) the basic policies underlying the particular field of law,
 
(f) certainty, predictability and uniformity of result,
 
(g) ease in the determination and application of the law to be applied.

 Id. § 6. *fn7" Section 145 ...


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