Miree v. DeKalb County,
433 U.S. 25 (1977)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Miree v. DeKalb County, 433 U.S. 25 (1977)

Miree v. DeKalb County, Georgia

No. 76-607

Argued April 27, 1977

Decided June 21, 1977*

433 U.S. 25


1. In petitioners' consolidated diversity actions against respondent county arising out of an aircraft crash at the county's airport, state, rather than federal, law held to apply to the resolution of petitioners' claim that, as, respectively, survivors of deceased passengers, the assignee of the aircraft owner, and a burn victim, they are the third-party beneficiaries of grant contracts between the county and the Federal Aviation Administration whereby the county agreed to restrict the use of land adjacent to or near the airport to activities compatible with normal aircraft operations, including landings and takeoffs; that the county breached these contracts by operating a garbage dump adjacent to the airport; and that the cause of the crash was the ingestion of birds swarming from the dump into the aircraft's jet engines shortly after takeoff. The rationale of Clearfield Trust Co. v. United States, 318 U. S. 363, that federal common law may govern in diversity cases where a uniform national rule is necessary to further the Federal Government's interest, is inapplicable, since only the rights of private litigants are at issue, and no substantial rights or duties of the United States hinge on the outcome of the litigation. Pp. 433 U. S. 28-33

2. Petitioners' claim, argued in this Court, that the Airport and Airway Development Act of 1970 provides an implied civil right of action to recover for death or injury due to violation of the Act, will not be considered where it was neither pleaded, argued, nor briefed in the courts below. Pp. 433 U. S. 33-34.

538 F.2d 643, vacated and remanded.

REHNQUIST, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BRENNAN, STEWART, WHITE, MARSHALL, BLACKMUN, POWELL, and STEVENS, JJ., joined. BURGER, C.J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, post, p. 433 U. S. 34.

Page 433 U. S. 26

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