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Laird v. Nelms

Citation: 2 ELR 20363
No. No. 71-573, 406 U.S. 797/(U.S., 06/07/1972)

Damages resulting from sonic booms generated by military aircraft are not recoverable from the federal government on the theory of strict liability for ultrahazardous activity even though the law of the situs state renders a person who creates a sonic boom absolutely liable for resulting damages. The Federal Tort Claims Act precludes the imposition of liability for any governmental act if there has been no negligence or other form of misfeasance or nonfeasance. Congress did not intend to impose liability where there was no intentionally wrongful or careless conduct. The district court found that the damages in this case did not result from negligence in the planning or operation of the aircraft's flight and the suit is thus barred by the immunity of the sovereign.

Counsel for Plaintiff
George E. Allen
1809 Staples Mill Road
Richmond, Virginia 23230

Counsel for Defendant
Erwin N. Griswold Solicitor General
Department of Justice
Washington, D.C. 20530

MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS, having heard the argument, withdrew from participation in the consideration or decision of this case.