American Airlines v. Ulen – Case Brief
American Airlines v. Ulen, 186 F.2d 529 (D.C. Cir. 1949).
Facts: Violet Ulen (P) was injured in a plane crash while traveling on an American Airlines (D) aircraft. Violet sued for personal injuries and her husband sued for medical expenses and loss of consortium. American Airlines admitted to the facts as alleged by the plaintiff but denied that it or its agents had been negligent in planning and approving the flight or in the operation of the plane.
Defendant answered a set of interrogatories that revealed that the flight plan had violated Civil Air Regulation 61.7401. Plaintiff filed motions for summary judgment based on the answers to the interrogatories. The judge granted summary judgment in favor of Ulen and in a trial as to the issue of damages the plaintiffs were awarded a total of $27,500. American Airlines appealed.
Issue: Are the parties’ pleadings the controlling factors in determining whether genuine issues of material fact remain for resolution by the finder of fact?
Holding and Rule: No. The parties’ pleadings are not the controlling factors in determining whether genuine issues of material fact remain for resolution by the finder of fact.
The court held that the pleadings by themselves did raise genuine issues of material fact that could only have been resolved through a trial on the merits; however, the interrogatories showed clearly that the defendant had been negligent in planning the flight and summary judgment was appropriate.
Disposition: Affirmed – judgment for the plaintiff.
See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett for a law school civil procedure case brief in which the United States Supreme Court held that summary judgment is proper under FRCP 56(c) if certain information on file demonstrates that there is no genuine issue of material fact.