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Kerstetter v. Pacific Scientific Co.

United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
210 F.3d 431 (2000)


Facts

Lieutenant David Joseph Huber was a United States Navy instructor pilot who was killed in 1995 when the pilot restraint system in his plane inadvertently ejected him. The navy investigated Huber’s death and concluded that Huber’s ejection from the plane was caused by a defect in the restraint system. The restraint system was manufactured by Pacific Scientific Company (Pacific) (defendant), which had contracted with the United States government to provide the restraint system for government planes. The government was very involved in the design and approval process of the restraint system. In fact, the navy addressed the specific design features of the restraint system that caused Huber’s death. The government approved the restraint system in 1982 and used it in navy planes manufactured from then on, including Huber’s. In 1985, the navy received reports of “uncommanded seat harness release” in its planes, but the navy made no changes to the approved restraint system. Linda Kerstetter (plaintiff) brought a products-liability suit against Pacific on behalf of Huber, her son. Pacific asserted the government-contractor defense. The district court granted Pacific summary judgment. Kerstetter appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Parker, J.)

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