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Zittrain Torts Playlist Spring 2013

People Express Airlines, Inc. v. Consolidated Rail Corp.

Headnote

Should courts support a negligence cause of action where the injury is purely economic? If so, how far should courts extend the boundaries of the negligent actor's liability? The defendants' negligence led to the risk of a tank car exploding. The business operations of plaintiff's airline--which was within a one-mile radius of the tank car--was interrupted due to a forced evacuation by municipal authorities. Ultimately, no explosion resulted and there was no property damage suffered by the plaintiff. However, plaintiff sued the defendants on the theory that their negligence resulted in economic loss due to the disruption of plaintiff's business activities.