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Executive Jet Aviation, Inc. v. City of Cleveland

409 U.S. 249, 93 S.Ct. 493, 34 L.Ed.2d 454, 1973 AMC 1 (1972)

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Executive Jet Aviation, Inc. v. City of Cleveland

United States Supreme Court

409 U.S. 249, 93 S.Ct. 493, 34 L.Ed.2d 454, 1973 AMC 1 (1972)

Facts

A plane owned by Executive Jet Aviation, Inc. (Executive Jet) (plaintiff) was cleared for takeoff at the Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland, Ohio. The plane startled a flock of seagulls into flight during takeoff. The plane struck the birds as it was ascending and lost power, and the pilot attempted to return to the runway. After the plane hit a fence and the top of a truck, it crashed into Lake Erie just off the end of the runway. Everyone on the plane escaped without injury, but the plane sank. Executive Jet brought a suit for damages in federal district court against the City of Cleveland and others (defendants) under federal admiralty jurisdiction, claiming alleged negligence in failing to keep the runway free of birds. The district court held that the matter was not cognizable in admiralty and dismissed the complaint for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. Executive Jet appealed, and the court of appeals affirmed the district court’s decision. Executive Jet appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Stewart, J.)

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