The legal consequences of an air crash are infinitely more complex than other transportation disasters, and the litigation almost always presents special problems. A single crash often gives rise to multiple claims filed in diverse federal districts, each of which has proper jurisdiction and venue. Since liability may vary in accordance with the particular state law under which the case is tried, such duplication is arguably a necessary price for a federal system of law. State law, which ordinarily controls the resolution of substantive issues, may vary as to the use of certain defenses, the burden of proof, the availability of certain theories of recovery such as strict liability, and the use of certain doctrines which ease the plaintiff's burden of proof or which help to overcome certain affirmative defenses (e.g., res ipsa loquitur, last clear chance). Additionally, there is the danger of a wide disparity in the amounts recovered by different plaintiffs, since nine jurisdictions, including Missouri, limit the amount recoverable in a wrongful death action. For these reasons, a need exists for more efficient judicial handling of the legal questions which arise from aircraft disasters. At the present time, federal law provides two statutory remedies, the purposes of which are to alleviate the problems inherent in multiple litigation of identical factual questions.
Kenneth W. Johnson,
Federal Courts--Proposed Aircraft Crash Litigation Legislation,
35 Mo. L. Rev.
Available at: https://scholarship.law.missouri.edu/mlr/vol35/iss2/6