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Eastern Air Lines, Inc. v. McDonnell Douglas Corp.

United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
532 F.2d 957 (1976)


In early 1965, Eastern Air Lines, Inc. (Eastern) (plaintiff) contracted to purchase planes from McDonnell Douglas Corp. (MDC) (defendant). The contract excused MDC from delivery delays caused by events outside of MDC’s fault or control, including but not limited to governmental acts or priorities. Over the next two years, the United States radically increased its military involvement in Vietnam. The Defense Production Act empowered the government to require that manufacturers prioritize military production over civilian obligations. Formal directives under the act were rarely given. Rather, the government typically “jawboned” manufacturers through informal requests issued under threat of a formal directive. In this manner, the government urged MDC to prioritize military production, which it did. As a result, MDC did not timely deliver planes to Eastern, which sued. A jury returned a verdict for Eastern, and MDC appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Ainsworth, J.)

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