637 F.3d 986 (9th Cir. 2011), 09-56501, Helman v. Alcoa Global Fasteners, Inc.
|Citation:||637 F.3d 986|
|Opinion Judge:||B. FLETCHER, Circuit Judge:|
|Party Name:||Tonya HELMAN, individually and as Personal Representatives of and Successors-In-Interest to the Successor Estate of Cory Helman, deceased; Jim Helman, individually and as Personal Representatives of and Successors-In-Interest to the Successor/Estate of Cory Helman, deceased; Sandy Helman, individually and as Personal Representatives of and Successo|
|Attorney:||James Paul Collins, John P. Kristensen, Terry O'Reilly, Nina Shapirshteyn, Gary Lynn Simms, O'Reilly Collins, San Mateo, CA, for the plaintiffs-appellants. Kevin Sutherland, Michael A. Hession, Clyde and Co US, LLP, San Francisco, CA, Stephen Brunk, Law Office of Stephen K. Brunk, La Jolla, CA, T...|
|Judge Panel:||Before: BETTY B. FLETCHER, MARSHA S. BERZON, and CONSUELO M. CALLAHAN, Circuit Judges.|
|Case Date:||March 14, 2011|
|Court:||United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit|
Argued and Submitted Dec. 6, 2010.
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Appeal from the United States District Court for the Central District of California, Stephen V. Wilson, District Judge, Presiding. D.C. No. 2:09-cv-01353-SVW-FFM.
Appellants bring this interlocutory appeal challenging the district court's grant of a motion to dismiss and a motion for judgment on the pleadings in Appellees' favor based on its conclusion that Appellant's state law claims are preempted by the Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA). On September 16, 2009, we granted the petition for permission to appeal under 28 U.S.C. § 1292(b), giving us jurisdiction to consider this issue. We now affirm.
Appellants are the personal representatives and successors in interest to three United States Navy crewmen killed in a helicopter crash. In 2007, while performing training exercises from the USS Bonhomme Richard, the helicopter lost control and crashed into the Pacific Ocean approximately 9.5 nautical miles off the coast of Catalina Island, California.
Appellants filed a complaint in the Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles, alleging that defects in the helicopter and its component parts caused the accident, and seeking damages for wrongful death. The complaint asserts causes of action for strict products liability, negligence, failure to warn, breach of warranty, and wrongful death and survival under California law and general maritime law. The case was then removed to federal court by Appellees Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation and Sikorsky Support Services, Inc. (collectively " Sikorsky" ). Sikorsky filed a Rule 12(c) motion for judgment on the pleadings, asserting that DOHSA preempts certain causes of action brought by Appellants because the accident occurred " on the high seas beyond three nautical miles from the shore of the United States." See Fed. R. Civ. Proc. 12(c). The remaining Appellees filed a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, alleging that certain of Appellants' claims failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted based on DOHSA preemption.
The district court issued a ruling granting these motions, holding that DOHSA preempts Appellants' state law and general maritime causes of action for wrongful death. More specifically, the district court held that DOHSA applies to noncommercial aircraft accidents " beyond three nautical
miles from shore," and that Presidential Proclamation No. 5928, 54 Fed.Reg. 777 (Dec. 27, 1988) (" Proclamation 5298" ), which extended the territorial sea of the United States from three to twelve nautical miles from shore, did nothing to alter DOHSA's applicability. In its holding, the district court relied on then-Judge Sotomayor's dissent in the seminal case of In re Air Crash Off Long Island, New York, on July 17, 1996, 209 F.3d 200 (2d Cir.2000) (hereinafter the " TWA Flight 800 Case " ), and declined to follow the majority opinion. Pursuant to...
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