Litigation involving military accidents is complex because many of the accidents occur during operations in war zones and involve sensitive aircraft systems and strict export controls. These cases involve unique defenses such as the government contractor defense, political question doctrine, combatant activities and state secrets privilege.  They present unusual challenges, such as obtaining investigation information from the military and evidence from inhospitable places.


For decades, Perkins Coie has defended lawsuits from military accidents that occur in combat zones, including several in Iraq and Afghanistan and during training exercises.  We have used the government contractor defense to obtain victories for military product manufacturers in lawsuits arising from dozens of accidents.

We have also won early dismissals using novel defenses, such as the political question doctrine, the state secrets privilege and the combatant activities exception to the Federal Tort Claims Act.  Examples include:

  • Getz v. The Boeing Company (N.D. Cal. and 9th Cir.) involved an Army Special Operations MH-47E that crashed in Afghanistan during a mission to capture a high-value al-Qaeda target. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit’s published opinion was its first affirmance of a summary judgment on the basis of the government contractor defense.
  • Mounsey v. Allied Signal (C.D. Cal.) involved U.S. Air Force F-15 pilots’ shootdown of U.S. Army Blackhawk helicopters over Northern Iraq after the pilots mistakenly identified them as Russian or Iraqi helicopters.  We obtained summary judgment on the basis of the state secrets privilege.
  • Flanigan v. Westwind Technologies, Inc. (W.D. Tenn.) involved an Army AH-64D that crashed while responding to rocket attacks on Kandahar Air Field.  We obtained summary judgment on the basis of the combatant activities exception to the Federal Tort Claims Act.
  • Amedi v. BAE Systems (N.D. Ga.) involved a death in an armored land vehicle in Iraq in which we successfully asserted the political question doctrine.
  • Ramey v. Martin-Baker Aircraft Co. (D. Md. and 4th Cir.) involved an injury to a worker performing maintenance on an F‑18 aircraft.  We successfully asserted the government contractor defense at the trial court and at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.