Friends for All Children v. Lockheed Aircraft
United States District Court for the District of Columbia
497 F. Supp. 313 (1980)
On April 4, 1975, a military transport plane built by Lockheed Aircraft (Lockheed) (defendant) crashed. The plane was being used to evacuate babies and young children (children) (plaintiffs) from Saigon, and many of the children were injured. Separate, simultaneous lawsuits were filed on behalf of the injured children. The lawsuits progressed through pretrial proceedings at the same pace, but each child’s case was tried individually, at least in part because Lockheed opposed consolidation of the trials. The parties presented extensive evidence, including expert testimony, concerning the forces involved in the crash as well as the alleged injuries of the children. Lockheed argued that the forces involved in the crash were insufficient to injure a child or to aggravate a child’s preexisting condition. In the first case, Schneider v. Lockheed, the jury found that the forces in question proximately aggravated a child’s preexisting injury. In the second case, Marchetti v. Lockheed, the jury found that the forces proximately caused a child’s injury. In the third case, Zimmerly v. Lockheed, the jury found that the child did not suffer from any injury or disease caused or aggravated by the forces in question. Zimmerly was later set aside, and a new trial was ordered. In the next case to be tried, Reynolds v. Lockheed, Reynolds (plaintiff) moved to prevent Lockheed from relitigating—in Reynold’s trial and in the 147 still-pending trials—the issue of whether the forces involved in the crash were sufficient to cause injuries in children or to aggravate children’s existing injuries.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Oberdorfer, J.)
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