The opinion of the court was delivered by: FISHER
The court is called upon today to decide a motion for summary judgment brought by defendant Allison Gas Turbine Division of General Motors Corporation ("Allison") and a cross-motion for summary judgment brought by defendant MPB Corporation ("MPB") in the above-captioned matter. Plaintiff, Edward J. Maguire, III ("Maguire"), filed suit in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Monmouth County, on August 5, 1987, seeking damages for personal injuries which he allegedly sustained in a helicopter accident on August 14, 1984, and in a motorcycle accident four days later. The superior court complaint named Hughes Aircraft Corporation ("Hughes"), Allison and several fictitious aliases for additional defendants that were unidentified at the time of filing.
The case was removed to this court by Allison on November 20, 1987, based on diversity jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332. An unopposed motion for summary judgment was granted in favor of Hughes (which had come to be known as McDonnell Douglas Helicopter) on November 23, 1988. On February 7, 1989, Allison received permission of the court to file a third-party complaint against MPB, and filed same on February 17, 1989. On June 28, 1989, United States Magistrate Freda L. Wolfson granted plaintiff leave to file an amended complaint naming MPB as a direct defendant. Maguire filed such a complaint on July 21, 1989. The instant motions followed.
Maguire was piloting a helicopter on a solo night training mission for the New Jersey Army National Guard on August 14, 1984. The aircraft, which was powered by an engine manufactured by Allison which included bearings manufactured by MPB, suffered an apparent engine failure, so Maguire conducted a forced landing.
An emergency-room physician examined plaintiff the night of the incident, and an army flight surgeon examined him the following day. Two days later, the army flight surgeon returned Maguire to active flight status, determining that he was medically fit. On August 18, 1989, Maguire collided with a curb while operating a motorcycle, thereby suffering personal injuries. Plaintiff claims that he had suffered injuries from the forced landing of the helicopter which caused him to lose consciousness while operating the motorcycle, and therefore the helicopter engine failure was the proximate cause of any and all injuries he received in both the helicopter incident and the motorcycle accident.
The helicopter engine was developed by Allison under contract with the United States Army. Both the engine's design concept and its individual designed components were reviewed, evaluated and approved by the defense department. The inspection and testing of the engine and its components were also approved and witnessed by the defense department. (Plaintiff's Opposition Brief, Exhibit A, Army Investigation Report). There is evidence that the engine failure was caused by a defect in the design of the MPB bearing. (Allison's Appendix, Exhibit 10). This bearing was not part of the original engine design, but was incorporated later. The substitution was the result of an engineering change proposal, the purpose of which was to prolong the service life of the engine bearing. Defendants base their summary-judgment motions on the government contractor defense, which was clarified by the Supreme Court in Boyle v. United Technologies Corp., 487 U.S. 500, 108 S. Ct. 2510, 101 L. Ed. 2d 442 (1988), reh. denied, 489 U.S. 1047, 109 S. Ct. 1182, 103 L. Ed. 2d 248 (1989).
The purpose of summary judgment is to eliminate unnecessary trials which would cause needless expense and delay. Goodman v. Mead Johnson & Co., 534 F.2d 566, 573 (3d Cir. 1975), cert. denied, 429 U.S. 1038, 97 S. Ct. 732, 50 L. Ed. 2d 748 (1977). Rule 56(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that summary judgment shall be granted:
if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.
The current standard for summary judgment requires that before judgment is entered as a matter of law, there be no "genuine" issue of "material" fact; however, the mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties is an insufficient basis on which to deny a motion for summary judgment. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202, 106 S. Ct. 2505 (1986). A fact is "material" only if it will affect the outcome of a lawsuit under the applicable law, and a dispute over a material fact is "genuine" if the evidence is such that a reasonable fact finder could return a verdict for the nonmoving party. Id.
The court is mindful that, in deciding a motion for summary judgment, it must construe the facts and inferences therefrom in a light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Pollock v. American Telephone & ...