Appellate Court Sends Marine Wrongful Death Case Back to Florida

April 28, 2018

ATLANTA, GA. – April 26, 2018 ( As reported by, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has remanded a wrongful death case involving a U.S. Marine plane crash back to a district court in Florida.*

Marine Capt. Shawn Nice and retired Navy Lt. Cmdr. Charles McDaniel were flying a Navy-owned jet aircraft during a training exercise. McDaniel was piloting the aircraft at a speed of 330 knots when a malfunction caused the rudder to move inadvertently to the left. McDaniel attempted to correct by moving the rudder to the right, and the tail broke apart. The plane crashed in north Georgia, killing both men.  

Following Nice’s death, his wife filed a wrongful death lawsuit against L-3 Communications Vertex Aerospace and McDaniel’s estate in Florida district court. The defendants filed a motion to dismiss the case under the political question doctrine, arguing that their defenses would expose sensitive military information. The court denied the motion, and the defendants appealed to the 11th Circuit under the collateral order doctrine and requested interlocutory appeal. 

Ordinarily, parties cannot file appeals until a case has been fully decided. This is because of what is called the final judgement rule. Under narrow exceptions, parties can request a court of appeals to hear a decision from a lower court that has not fully disposed of the case. The defendants sought for the 11th Circuit to grant them an appeal under one of these narrow exceptions.  

A panel of judges on the Court of Appeals found that the defendants did not prove that the lower court’s decision to deny dismissal was appealable, and the Court refused to exercise jurisdiction over the defendants’ appeal. The case will now return to the lower court in Florida, where it will proceed as previously scheduled. 

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Category: Accident News

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