Ninth Circuit Affirms District Court Ruling Based On Government Contractor Defense


Today, the Ninth Circuit, issued a seminal decision regarding the Government Contractor Defense in Getz et al. v. The Boeing Co. et al., No. 10-15284 (D.C. No. 4:07-cv-06396-CW) (9th Cir. Aug. 2, 2011). The decision was authored by Senior Circuit Judge Wallace and joined by Judge Noonan and Judge Clifton. The Ninth Circuit’s fact-intensive analysis of the three prongs of Boyle, as well as the state law failure-to-warn claim, provides a well-written analysis of current Ninth Circuit precedent, and serves as a roadmap for future government contractor defense cases in the Ninth Circuit.

The Government Contractor Defense establishes that government contractors can be protected from tort liability that arises as a result of the contractor’s “compli[ance] with the specifications of a federal government contract.” Getz, No. 10-15284 at 9963, citing In re Hanford Nuclear Reservation Litig., 534 F.3d 986, 1000 (9th Cir. 2008). In order to establish the government contractor defense, a contractor needs to establish: (1) government approval of reasonably precise specifications, (2) conformance to those specifications, and (3) warnings of dangers known to the contractor but not the government. See Boyle v. United Technologies Corp., 487 U.S. 500, 512 (1988).

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