Civil Procedure Keyed to Friedenthal
Miree v. DeKalb County
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Miree and others, Plaintiffs, sued DeKalb County, Defendant in federal court based on diversity of citizenship, for injuries and wrongful death arising from an airline accident that occurred shortly after takeoff from an airport owned by Defendant. The only meritorious count of the complaint alleged that Defendant breached its contract with FAA, which required Defendant to restrict use of the land adjacent to the airport to activities compatible with airport activities (i.e., takeoff and landing). The complaint further alleged that Defendant maintained a garbage dump next to the airport that attracted birds. The birds were sucked into the plane in question’s engine, which caused the crash. Plaintiffs further allege that they are third party beneficiaries of the contract and thus have standing to sue on the contract. The District Court held that Georgia law applied and that Defendant had governmental immunity and dismissed the complaint. Plaintiffs appealed and the Court of Appeal’s panel held that state law allowed Plaintiffs to sue as third party beneficiaries and governmental immunity did not bar the suit. Defendant requested rehearing en banc. The Court of Appeals en banc held that federal law applied, which did not allow Plaintiffs to sue as third party beneficiaries. Plaintiffs appealed to the Supreme Court.
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