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Beech Aircraft Corp. v. Rainey

United States Supreme Court
488 U.S. 153 (1988)

Beech Aircraft Corp. v. Rainey


Two pilots died in the crash of a Navy training aircraft. The cause of the accident was unknown. The pilots’ spouses (plaintiffs) brought a products liability suit against Beech Aircraft Corp. (Beech) (defendant), the manufacturer of the plane that crashed, on a theory that the crash was caused by the plane’s engine failure. Beech defended itself on the theory of pilot error. Beech sought to introduce into evidence an investigative report prepared by Lieutenant Commander William Morgan pursuant to an order from the training squadron’s commanding officer. The report was broken down into sections labeled “finding of fact,” “opinions,” and “recommendations.” Specifically Beech sought to introduce a statement in the “opinions” section which stated that “[t]he most probable cause of the accident was the pilots [sic] failure to maintain proper interval.” The trial judge admitted this statement, but the court of appeals reversed, excluding the statement. Beech appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Brennan, J.)

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