A jet crashed and the survivors of deceased passengers (survivors) (plaintiffs) brought suit against DeKalb County (DeKalb) (defendant), where the crash occurred, in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. In the suit, the survivors were seeking to hold DeKalb liable as third party beneficiaries of contracts between DeKalb and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). DeKalb had contracted with the FAA to keep lands near its airport free of things incompatible with airport operations. The survivors’ claim was that DeKalb breached the contract by keeping a garbage dump next to the airport and that birds swarming over the dump caused the plane crash. The district court applied Georgia law and dismissed the complaint. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed the dismissal, but for a different reason, applying federal law and holding that the survivors did not have standing to sue. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.