Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Family members of Navy personnel sue for wrongful death

Family members of four Navy personnel who were killed in a helicopter crash two years ago are suing the helicopter’s manufacturer for wrongful death. The story is available here. This is an interesting story because these types of laswsuits are rarely successful. Manufacturers who design and manufacture products for the military according to specific requests (i.e. according to the military's own specificications) are protected by the same immunity that protects the military itself -- unless the plaintiff can show that the manufacturer knew the dangers posed by the product (and that the government did not). One famous case was made into a movie called "Afterburn" in which Laura Dern plays the widow of a military pilot who dies in a crash. She sued the plane's manufacturer and won at trial. The movie ends there which is a fairly satisfying "hollywood ending." Unfortunately, the reality is that the real case was later reversed and the claim dismissed. You can find that opinion here.

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