In re Air Crash Disaster at John F. Kennedy Int., 227.

Decision Date04 February 1976
Docket NumberNo. 227.,227.
Citation407 F. Supp. 244
PartiesIn re AIR CRASH DISASTER AT JOHN F. KENNEDY INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT ON JUNE 24, 1975.
CourtJudicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation

Before ALFRED P. MURRAH*, Chairman, and JOHN MINOR WISDOM**, EDWARD WEINFELD*, EDWIN A. ROBSON, WILLIAM H. BECKER, JOSEPH S. LORD, III, and STANLEY A. WEIGEL, Judges of the Panel.

OPINION AND ORDER

PER CURIAM.

On June 24, 1975, and Eastern Air Lines 727 jet aircraft, en route from New Orleans, Louisiana, to New York, New York, crashed on its approach to John F. Kennedy International Airport during poor weather. One hundred thirteen of the 124 individuals on board died as a result of the crash. Of the eleven survivors, all of whom allegedly suffered various injuries, nine were passengers and two were crew members. The persons aboard were residents of five states and twelve nations.

Thirty-seven actions arising from this air disaster have been commenced in four federal district courts: 23 in the Southern District of New York; seven in the Eastern District of Louisiana; five in the Eastern District of New York; and two in the Southern District of Mississippi. Plaintiffs in these actions are comprised of injured passengers, relatives of deceased passengers and administrators of decedents' estates. Defendants are Eastern, The Boeing Company, which manufactured the ill-fated aircraft, and the administrator of the estate of the airplane's deceased captain. In addition, defendant Eastern has filed third-party claims against the United States in three of the actions that are pending in the Southern District of New York. Plaintiffs are proceeding on various theories of negligence, willful misconduct, products liability and absolute liability. Compensatory and punitive damages are sought.

Defendant Eastern moves the Panel for an order transferring all actions to the Eastern District of New York for coordinated or consolidated pretrial proceedings pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407.1 All responding parties agree on the obvious need for Section 1407 treatment, but disagree over the appropriate situs for the transferee court. Defendant Boeing and plaintiffs in the Eastern District of New York actions concur with Eastern's choice. Plaintiffs in seventeen of the Southern District of New York actions and defendant United States favor transfer to either the Southern or Eastern Districts of New York, while the plaintiffs in two other actions pending in the Southern District of New York maintain that that district is the only appropriate transferee forum. Plaintiffs in the Louisiana and Mississippi actions request transfer of all actions to the Eastern District of Louisiana.

We find that these actions involve common questions of fact and that their transfer to the Eastern District of New York for coordinated or consolidated pretrial proceedings under Section 1407 will best serve the convenience of the parties and witnesses and promote the just and efficient conduct of this litigation.

The most adamant opposition to movant's proposed transferee forum comes from the plaintiffs who seek transfer of all actions to the Eastern District of Louisiana. While these plaintiffs recognize that the Panel generally transfers actions spawned by an air disaster to the district in which the crash occurred, which in this litigation is the Eastern District of New York, they argue that the Panel has deviated from this rule whenever persuasive reasons have demonstrated it prudent to do so, and such is the case here. In support of their position, the Louisiana proponents argue as follows: the majority of passengers involved in this air crash were residents of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama; most of the Eastern, Boeing, Federal Aviation Administration and various weather personnel knowledgeable about either the design, manufacture or maintenance of the aircraft or the proper airport and flight-crew operating procedures during inclement weather reside closer to Louisiana than to New York; the majority of the southern plaintiffs' anticipated expert witnesses reside closer to Louisiana than to New York; the court calendar in the Eastern District of New York is far more congested than the one in the Eastern District of Louisiana; and transfer of the southern lawsuits to a New York district would work a financial hardship on these plaintiffs, in contrast to the superior resources of defendants. One of the Louisiana plaintiffs adds that the necessity to apply Louisiana law in his action is another reason for selecting the Louisiana forum. The parties favoring solely the Southern District of New York as the transferee forum maintain that that district is preferable simply from the standpoint of convenience to counsel.

We have not been persuaded to deviate from our "situs of the crash" rule in this litigation and, therefore, select the Eastern District of New York as the most appropriate transferee forum. Indeed, on the basis of the record before us, there are a number of reasons to adhere to this principle. Most of the anticipated key witnesses on the issue of liability reside near Kennedy Airport, for example: the FAA air traffic controllers from the airport control tower, traffic controllers from the New York Common I.F.R. Room and the New York Air Route Traffic Control Center, local weather observers and forecasters, Port of New York Authority officials responsible for supervising the airport's operations, and approximately forty eyewitnesses. Moreover, the tape recordings of conversations between the traffic controllers and the flight-crew, as well as other relevant documents from the FAA and the National Weather Service, are located in the Eastern District of New York. And Judge Henry Bramwell, to whom all the Eastern District of New York actions are assigned, has had an opportunity to become familiar with the issues involved in this litigation, which will enable him to supervise it toward its most just and expeditious termination.

We share the southern plaintiffs' concern to minimize the overall expenses in this litigation but we are confident that those parties can experience a net savings of time, effort and expenses by Section 1407 treatment in the Eastern District of New York and the accompanying utilization of techniques recommended in the Manual for Complex Litigation. For example, since all plaintif...

To continue reading

Request your trial
15 cases
  • O'Rourke v. Eastern Air Lines, Inc., s. 56
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Second Circuit
    • March 2, 1984
    ...to the Eastern District of New York and were consolidated for pretrial purposes. See In re Air Crash Disaster at John F. Kennedy Int'l Airport on June 24, 1975, 407 F.Supp. 244 (J.P.M.D.L.1976). After the completion of pretrial discovery, the court consolidated the passenger actions for a t......
  • In re Sulfuric Acid Antitrust Litig..This Document Relates To: All Related Actions.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of Illinois
    • September 24, 2010
    ...Corp. Antitrust Litigation, 510 F.Supp. 1220, 1227–28 (J.P.M.L.1979) (quoting In re Air Crash Disaster at John F. Kennedy International Airport on June 24, 1975, 407 F.Supp. 244, 246–47 (J.P.M.L.1976); In re Air Crash Disaster Near Chicago, 644 F.2d 594, 610 (7th Cir.1981)). This practice p......
  • Butner v. Boehringer Ingelheim Pharms., Inc. (In re Pradaxa (Dabigatran Etexilate) Prods. Liab. Litig.)
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Southern District of Illinois
    • February 22, 2013
    ...Corp. Antitrust Litigation, 510 F.Supp. 1220, 1227-28 (J.P.M.L. 1979) (quoting In re Air Crash Disaster at John F. Kennedy International Airport on June 24, 1975, 407 F.Supp. 244, 246-47 (J.P.M.L.1976)); Chang v. Baxter Healthcare Corp., 599 F.3d 728, 732-735 (7th Cir. 2010); In re Air Cras......
  • In re Air Disaster at John F. Kennedy Intern. Airport
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Eastern District of New York
    • December 1, 1978
    ...proceedings. After due deliberation, the Panel granted Eastern's motion. See In re Air Crash Disaster at John F. Kennedy International Airport on June 24, 1975, 407 F.Supp. 244 (Jud. Pan.Mult.Lit.1976). At the outset, thirty-seven actions were transferred. However, according to the Panel, t......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 books & journal articles
  • Chapter § 4.04 Factors for Granting a Section 1407 Transfer
    • United States
    • Full Court Press Emerging Trends in Litigation Management Chapter 4
    • Invalid date
    ...complex).[73] Compare In re Clark Oil, 364 F. Supp. at 459 (finding class designation competition relevant), with In re Royal Am., 407 F. Supp. at 244 (finding consultation and coordination between courts).[74] Herr, supra note 19, at § 5.16.[75] Id. at § 5.18.[76] See In re Bratton, 206 F.......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT