United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois
March 20, 2003
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Zagel, Judge
This litigation arises out of the mid-air collision of two small aircraft over the Chicago lakefront on July 19, 1997. Three pre-trial rulings have narrowed the scope of this action. On September 13, 2001, I dismissed all allegations against the United States except for two: (1) the FAA's allegedly unreasonable delay in approving a requested contract modification to fund Midwest's addition of a fourth air traffic controller to Meigs Tower; and (2) the FAA's alleged failure to administer a "practical test" to the FAA manager selected to certify Midwest's controllers at the opening of the tower. On April 11, 2002, I denied the United States' renewed motion to dismiss these two remaining counts. On September 13, 2002, I denied plaintiff's motion seeking to file amended complaints with additional allegations. Therefore, this case is proceeding towards trial on the limited allegations of negligent contract administration. Finally, on October 3, 2002, I granted the United States' motion for a bifurcated trial and adopted the issue division proposed by the United States. Under this proposal, the first phase of the trial will be as follows:
Phase I: Whether Plaintiffs can prove either of the
two allegations of negligent contract administration,
discussed above? If so, whether Plaintiffs can prove
that such negligent contract administration caused or
contributed to Midwest's having inadequately trained,
or inadequate numbers of, air traffic controllers on
duty at the time of the accident? If so, whether the
United States can prove that any such negligent
contract administration was a "discretionary function"
and therefore exempt from suit under the FTCA?
In preparation for trial, I requested that both parties submit their respective versions of the Statement of the Case. They have done so, but the versions differ greatly. Plaintiffs' much broader submission demonstrates that they have misapprehended my prior substantive orders, and its bifurcation order, which collectively narrow this case, in its first phase, to only two remaining issues. What remains before the Court, as described in the United States' submission, is only a subset of the witnesses and issues proposed in plaintiffs' submission. Therefore, I adopt the United States' submission as the Statement of the Case [62-1] and will use that submission as the basis for pre-trial rulings on the scope of the trial's first phase.
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