Executive Jet Aviation v. City of Cleveland - 409 U.S. 249 (1972)
U.S. Supreme Court
Executive Jet Aviation v. City of Cleveland, 409 U.S. 249 (1972)
Executive Jet Aviation v. City of Cleveland
Argued November 15, 1972
Decided December 18, 1972
409 U.S. 249
Petitioners, invoking federal admiralty jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1333(1), brought suit for damages resulting from the crash-landing and sinking in the navigable waters of Lake Erie of their jet aircraft shortly after takeoff from a Cleveland airport. The District Court dismissed the complaint for lack of admiralty jurisdiction on the grounds that the alleged tort had neither a maritime locality nor a maritime nexus. The Court of Appeals affirmed on the first ground.
Held: Neither the fact that an aircraft goes down on navigable waters nor that the negligence "occurs" while the aircraft is flying over such waters is sufficient to confer federal admiralty jurisdiction over aviation tort claims, and, in the absence of legislation to the contrary, such jurisdiction exists with respect to those claims only when there is a significant relationship to traditional maritime activity. Therefore, federal admiralty jurisdiction does not extend to aviation tort claims arising from flights like the one involved here between points within the continental United States. Pp. 409 U. S. 253-274.
448 F.2d 151, affirmed.
STEWART, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court.