Vanderbilt Law Review

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Conflicts of Law--Federal Preemption--Aviation Law

Appellant-defendants, the United States' and a national airline whose plane had been involved in a mid-air collision while under radar direction from the FAA, agreed to a settlement of the resulting actions for wrongful death that had been initiated in various federal district courts and consolidated in the Southern District of Indiana. Appellants then sought indemnity and contribution by cross-claim and third-party complaints against appellee-defendants, the owners of the other plane involved in the collision and the estate of its student pilot. The appellees contended that since no right to indemnity and contribution existed under the laws of the state where the collision occurred, no claim was stated upon which relief could be granted. The appellants contended, however, that the federal government's interest in and preemption over the control of the nation's airways requires that a federal law of indemnity and contribution determined on a comparative negligence basis should govern in mid-air collisions.' The district court adopted the appellees' position. On appeal the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, held, reversed in part'" and remanded." A federal law of indemnity and contribution determined on a comparative negligence basis governs the rights and liabilities of parties involved in aviation collisions. Kohr v. Allegheny Airlines, Inc., 504 F.2d 400 (7th Cir. 1974.)


Torts--Duty to Act for Protection of Another--Liability of Psychotherapist

Plaintiffs, parents of a young woman who was murdered by a former mental patient, brought a wrongful death action against the Regents of the University of California as well as four psychotherapists' and five policemen employed by the University. Prior to the murder of plaintiffs' daughter, the murderer had undergone psychotherapy as a voluntary outpatient at the University hospital. While in psychotherapy the patient disclosed his intention to kill a person readily identifiable as plaintiffs' daughter, but neither plain-tiffs nor their daughter were warned of the patient's statement.Following an abortive commitment attempt by defendant psycho-therapists and policemen, the patient discontinued psychotherapy and killed plaintiffs' daughter approximately two months after confiding his intention to his therapist. Plaintiffs contended that defendants were negligent in failing to warn plaintiffs of the patient's threat. The trial court dismissed the complaint for failure to state a cause of action. The court of appeals affirmed, holding in part that because no special relationship existed between defendants and plaintiffs or the victim, defendants owed no duty to disclose the patient's stated intention to kill plaintiffs' daughter.' The Supreme Court of California, held, reversed and remanded. A psychotherapist treating a mentally ill patient owes a duty of reasonable care to give threatened persons a warning necessary to avert foreseeable danger arising from his patient's condition or treatment., Tarasoff v. Regents of University of California, Cal. 3d 177, 529 P.2d 553,118 Cal. Rptr. 129 (1974), rehearing granted, March 12, 1975.