In re Mid-Air Collision Near Fairland, Indiana, 30.

Decision Date10 February 1970
Docket NumberNo. 30.,30.
PartiesIn re Multidistrict Personal Injury Litigation Arising from the MID-AIR COLLISION Near FAIRLAND, INDIANA on September 9, 1969.
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 September 9, 1969 an Allegheny Airlines DC-9 enroute from Cincinnati, Ohio to Indianapolis, Indiana collided with a Piper Cherokee and crashed near Shelbyville, Indiana. The 78 passengers and the four crew members of the DC-9 were killed. The pilot of the small aircraft was killed also. The actions on Schedule A are death actions to recover damages resulting from the deaths of persons killed in this disaster.1 Following notice to all parties, a hearing was held on motions of one of the defendants and several of the plaintiffs to consider transfer of these actions to a single district for coordinated or consolidated pretrial proceedings under 28 U.S.C.A. Section 1407.

All parties represented at the hearing favor transfer of these actions to a single district under 28 U.S.C. Section 1407 but they do not agree on the choice of the transferee court. We agree with counsel for the Ohio plaintiffs2 who point out in their brief:

The questions of fact and law applicable to liability will be virtually identical in all of these actions and, thus, this clearly is a situation in which consolidation for pretrial proceeding is appropriate pursuant to 28 U.S.C. Section 1407. The only real question is where proceedings should be consolidated.

Defendants Allegheny Airlines and the United States favor transfer of all actions to the Southern District of Indiana as do plaintiffs in actions pending in the Southern District of Indiana, the District of Connecticut and the Eastern District of New York.3 The plaintiffs in actions pending in the Southern District of Ohio, the Southern District of West Virginia and the Eastern District of Tennessee favor transfer of all actions to the Southern District of Ohio.

With at least 38 actions pending in seven districts there can be little doubt that this is multidistrict litigation within the meaning of Section 1407. The facts relating to the cause of the collision are common to all of these actions. In re Cincinnati Air Disaster (TWA), 298 F.Supp. 353 (JPML 1968). The parties agree that the transfer of these actions to a single district for coordinated or consolidated pretrial proceedings will serve the convenience of parties and witnesses and will promote the just and efficient conduct of these actions. The statutory criteria for transfers under Section 1407 are clearly met.

Counsel for the parties favoring transfer to the Southern District of Ohio rely on the fact that there are more actions now pending in that district than in any other single district.4 While the number of actions pending in a potential transferee district is relevant to the selection of the most appropriate district, it is certainly not controlling especially where, as here, the actions are nearly equally divided between two districts.

Factors favoring the selection of the Southern District of Indiana include: (1) numerous eye-witnesses to the collision reside in that district, (2) much of the potentially relevant material evidence is located in Indianapolis5 and (3) the owner of the Piper Cherokee is an Indiana corporation with its principal office in Indianapolis. Perhaps most important is the fact that the crash occurred in the Southern District of Indiana.

We have consistently held that the district encompassing the situs of the crash is generally the most appropriate transferee district for litigation of this type. In re Hendersonville, North Carolina Air Disaster Litigation, 297 F.Supp. 1039 (JPML 1969); In re Ardmore, Oklahoma Air Disaster Litigation, 295 F.Supp. 45 (JPML 1968); In re Cincinnati Air Disaster Litigation (TWA), supra; In re Cincinnati Air Disaster Litigation (American Airlines), 295 F. Supp. 51 (JPML 1968). There are no unusual circumstances present in this litigation which support a departure from this precedent.

IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that the actions listed on the attached Schedule A pending in other districts be and the same are hereby transferred to the Southern District of Indiana pursuant to 28 U.S.C. Section 1407 and with the consent of that court these actions are assigned to the Honorable Cale J. Holder for coordinated or consolidated pretrial proceedings.6

                                            SCHEDULE A
                                     Eastern District of New York
                   Mozelle A. Freeman v. Allegheny Airlines, Inc. v.    Civil Action No
                     United States of America                             69-C-1319
                                     Southern District of Indiana
                   Jill Mary Kohr v. Allegheny Airlines, Inc.           Civil Action No
                                                                          IP 69-C-431
                   Nelda Cobb Fox v. Allegheny Airlines, Inc., et al.   Civil Action No
                                                                          IP 69-C-459
                   Bette C. Marshall v. Allegheny Airlines, Inc.        Civil Action No
                                                                          IP 69-C-476
                   Morris Groverman, Jr. v. Allegheny Airlines, Inc.    Civil Action No
                                                                          IP 69-C-479
                   Elisabeth Alexander v. Allegheny Airlines, Inc.,     Civil Action No.
                     et al.                                               IP 69-C-497
                   Juanita E. Quante v. Allegheny Airlines, Inc.        Civil Action No.
                                                                          IP 69-C-523
                   Lorraine D. Carey v. Allegheny Airlines, Inc.        Civil Action No.
                                                                          IP 69-C-544
                   Merchants National Bank & Trust Company of           Civil Action No.
                     Indianapolis, etc. v. Allegheny Airlines, Inc.       IP 69-C-587
                   Edwin B. Fockler, III, etc. v. Allegheny Airlines,   Civil Action No.
                     Inc., et al.                                         IP 69-C-588
                   Edwin B. Fockler, III, etc. v. Allegheny Airlines,   Civil Action No.
                     Inc., et al.                                         IP 69-C-589
                   Barbara Dianne Morgan, etc. v. Allegheny Airlines,   Civil Action No.
                     Inc., et al.                                         IP 69-C-590
                   Judith Fahy Christy, etc. v. Allegheny Airlines,     Civil Action No.
                     Inc., et al.                                         IP 69-C-541
                                     Southern District of Ohio
                   The First National Bank of Cincinnati v. Allegheny   Civil Action No.
                     Airlines, Inc.                                       7296
                   The First National Bank of Cincinnati v. Allegheny   Civil Action No.
                     Airlines, Inc.                                       7297
                
                
                   The First National Bank of Cincinnati v. Allegheny     Civil Action No.
                     Airlines, Inc.                                         7298
                   Barbara C. Fields v. Allegheny Airlines, Inc.          Civil Action No.
                                                                            7301
                   Shirley C. Rose v. Allegheny Airlines, Inc.            Civil Action No.
                                                                            7308
                   Lois Ann Hubbell v. Allegheny Airlines, Inc.           Civil Action No.
                                                                            7332
                   Joan Lee Reekers v. Allegheny Airlines, Inc.           Civil Action No.
                                                                            7336
                   Garnet M. Brown v. Allegheny Airlines, Inc.            Civil Action No.
                                                                            7343
                   The First National Bank of Cincinnati v. Allegheny     Civil Action No.
                     Airlines                                               7344
                   Talmage L. Brannon, etc. v. Allegheny Airlines,        Civil Action No.
                     Inc.
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13 cases
  • Aguirre v. Albertson's, Inc.
    • United States
    • Oregon Supreme Court
    • August 3, 2005
    ...common questions of fact with actions previously transferred under Section 1407." See also In re Mid-Air Collision Near Fairland, Indiana, 309 F.Supp. 621, 622 n. 1 (Jud.Pan.Mult.Lit.1970) (any cases filed after petition for transfer would be considered tag-along cases); Manual for Complex ......
  • IN RE AIR CRASH DISASTER AT DETROIT MET. AIRPORT
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Western District of Michigan
    • August 18, 1989
    ...re Air Disaster at John F. Kennedy International Airport, 479 F.Supp. 1118, 1121-22 (E.D.N.Y.1978); In re Mid-Air Collision Near Fairland, Indiana, 309 F.Supp. 621, 623 n. 6 (J.P.M.L.1970). In order to effectuate such a transfer under § 1404(a), it must be established that (1) the transferr......
  • Allegheny Airlines, Inc. v. LeMay
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Seventh Circuit
    • December 20, 1971
    ...some of the actions were already pending, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407(a) for pretrial proceedings. In re Mid-Air Collision Near Fairland, Indiana, 309 F.Supp. 621 (Jud.Pan.Mult.Lit.1970). After the transfer of the cases to the Southern District of Indiana, Allegheny, a defendant in the cas......
  • Smith v. Cessna Aircraft Corp., 75 C 4398.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of Illinois
    • March 22, 1977
    ...on Multi-district Litigation consolidated the actions in the Southern District of Indiana. See In re Mid-Air Collision Near Fairland, Indiana, 309 F.Supp. 621 (Jud.Pan. Mult.Lit. 1970). By the time of disposition, wrongful death actions had been commenced on behalf of over eighty of the dec......
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1 books & journal articles
  • Multidistrict Litigation: an Overview for Practitioners
    • United States
    • Colorado Bar Association Colorado Lawyer No. 11-1, January 1982
    • Invalid date
    ...453 F.Supp. 648 (J.P.M.L. 1978). 65. Supra, note 49. 66. In re Mid-Air Collision Near Fairland, Indiana, on September 9, 1969, 309 F.Supp. 621 (J.P.M.L. 1970). 67. In re Air Crash Near Duarte, California, on June 6, 1971, 357 F.Supp. 1013 (C.D. Cal. 1973). 68. In re Air Crash Disaster at Pa......

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