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Cox v. Northwest Airlines
United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
379 F.2d 893 (1967)
Randall Cox was a passenger on a flight from McChord Air Force Base, near Seattle, Washington, to Elmendorf, Alaska. About three hours into the flight, the airplane crashed into the Pacific off the coast of Canada. The plane’s crew had followed all the usual protocols and did not send any distress signals. Although some of the plane’s wreckage was recovered, the bodies of the plane’s crew and passengers were never found. The cause of the crash could not be determined. Cox’s estate (plaintiff) sued Northwest Airlines (Northwest) (defendant), the operator of the plane that crashed. Cox’s estate argued that under the rule of res ipsa loquitur, Northwest Airlines should be found negligent. The trial court found in favor of Cox’s estate, awarding it damages of $330,000. Northwest appealed. On appeal, Northwest argued that it used due care in operating the flight, as evidenced by maintenance records, certifications, the crew’s training, and evidence that the flight took off properly and the weather was normal. Because Cox’s estate did not allege any specific negligence, Northwest argued that the court improperly applied the rule of res ipsa loquitur.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Castle, J.)
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