Burke v. Air Serv. Int'l, Inc., No. 11-7037 (D.C. Cir. 2012)Annotate this Case
Plaintiff, a former British soldier, was severely wounded in an ambush in Afghanistan, where he was working for a private security contractor. Plaintiff sued the transport company that furnished the helicopter he flew in on and the construction company that contracted with his employer for his security services, alleging that they had negligently failed to take appropriate security measures for his trip. The district court granted summary judgment for Defendants because Plaintiff failed to proffer, as required by District of Columbia law, an expert to testify regarding the standard of care for such security precautions. Plaintiff appealed, maintaining that no expert was required because, inter alia, "every juror will have seen" such films as High Noon. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) Plaintiff's reliance on old Westerns rather than expert testimony to establish the standard of care was fatal to his negligence claim; and (2) the Erie doctrine was fatal to Plaintiff's alternative contention that the Court should disregard D.C.'s expert testimony requirement altogether.