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Simon v. United States

Indiana Supreme Court
805 N.E.2d 798 (2004)


A pilot and passengers were killed in a plane crash. The flight commenced in Pennsylvania and ended when the plane crashed in Kentucky. The plane never entered or flew through Indiana. The passengers resided in Pennsylvania and Georgia. The pilot resided in New Jersey. The plane was based in Pennsylvania and owned by a Delaware subsidiary of a Pennsylvania entity. The accident occurred when the pilot, relying on a chart published by the Federal Aviation Administration in Washington, D.C., requested an instrument-landing approach. Air-traffic controllers located in Indiana approved the request. However, the necessary instruments at the destination airport in Kentucky were not operational. The estates of the people killed in the crash (plaintiffs) filed suit in federal court in Pennsylvania against the United States (defendant), alleging the United States was negligent (1) in publishing the chart showing that an instrument landing was available at the destination airport, and (2) in the Indiana-based air-traffic controllers’ authorization of the approach. On an interlocutory appeal, the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit certified two questions to the Indiana Supreme Court: (1) whether there was a true conflict of law between Indiana’s and the District of Columbia’s choice-of-law rules; and (2) if so, what law Indiana would apply if the relevant choice-of-law factors did not conclusively lead to a particular result.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Shepard, C.J.)

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