An amateur pilot owns a small airplane, which he houses at a privately owned airport. The control tower at the airport is staffed by air traffic controllers. These are airport employees who manage the flow of traffic and communicate with the pilots to ensure safety. One day, as the pilot is landing his plane at the airport, he sees a service truck moving onto the runway directly in front of him. The pilot suddenly banks hard, to avoid colliding with the truck. Almost immediately, the pilot loses control of the aircraft and crashes into the side of a maintenance hangar owned and operated by the airport. The pilot is not injured, but his airplane is damaged beyond repair. The maintenance hangar is also damaged, as is some valuable equipment inside. Due to the accident, the airport is forced to close for two days, causing it to lose revenue.
The air traffic controller who was on duty when the crash occurred claims that the pilot did not follow instructions during the landing, while the pilot claims that the controller caused the accident by giving faulty instructions. A witness has stated that the pilot was slumped over the controls just before the plane collided with the hangar, appearing to be unconscious.
The pilot files suit against the airport in the appropriate United States District Court, seeking compensation for the damage to his plane. The airport counterclaims against the pilot, seeking to recover for both the property damage and the revenue it lost being closed for two days. Assume that the court has jurisdiction.
During discovery, the airport asks the pilot to submit to a physical examination. The pilot refuses. The airport also serves the pilot with interrogatories. One interrogatory reads as follows: “Identify and describe all automobile accidents or automobile traffic violations in which you have been involved in the past twenty years.” The pilot objects to the interrogatory, stating that it is unduly burdensome and seeks information that is not relevant to the case. (Assume that it is common knowledge that driving habits and medical conditions may persist over long periods.)
The pilot, meanwhile, learns that the airport has hired a trial consultant who is an expert on runway accidents. Although other experts are available, the airport’s expert is generally acknowledged to be the world’s leading authority in this field. The pilot subpoenas the expert for a deposition. The airport responds that the pilot is not entitled to take the deposition because the expert will not testify at trial. The pilot also asks the airport to produce all documents relating to its landing procedures and protocols in effect at the time of the accident. The airport concedes that these documents are relevant, but it refuses to produce them, arguing that revealing these documents could compromise airport security.
The airport has filed four motions. The first is a motion to compel the pilot to submit to a physical examination. The second is a motion to compel the pilot to answer the interrogatory about his driving record. The third is a motion to quash the subpoena of the airport’s expert. The fourth is a motion for a protective order against producing the requested documents.
- How should the court rule on the airport’s motion to compel physical examination? Explain.
- How should the court rule on the airport’s motion to compel a response to the interrogatory? Explain.
- How should the court rule on the airport's motion to quash the subpoena? Explain.
- How should the court rule on the airport’s motion for a protective order? Explain.
How should the court rule on the airport’s motion to compel physical examination? Explain.
How should the court rule on the airport’s motion to compel a response to the interrogatory? Explain.
How should the court rule on the airport's motion to quash the subpoena? Explain.
How should the court rule on the airport’s motion for a protective order? Explain.