Summary of Langadinos v. American Airlines, Inc., U.S. Ct. of Appeals, 1st Circuit (2000)
Cause of action: The following is a cause of action for both common law tort and for violation of the Warsaw Convention, where he was assaulted by an intoxicated passenger on an airline flight.
Procedural History: PL filed in district court, and then amended his complaint before DF responded. DF filed motion to dismiss for failure to state a cause of action under FRCP 12(b)(6). District court granted the motion. This court vacates and remands.
Facts: PL grabbed in testicles by DF passenger on a flight. Attendant promise to have the guy arrested once they got to Paris, but he was not. This action ensued.
Issue(s): Under FRCP 12(b)(6), did PL properly amend his complaint so that his cause of action so that there was at least a chance he could recover on count two, or his violation of the Warsaw Convention theory?
Court’s Rationale/Reasoning: Convention states that airlines are liable for damages caused while passenger is on an international flight/ The Court defined liability under the Convention “arises only if a passenger’s injury is caused by an unexpected or unusual event or happening that is external to the passenger.”(usual, normal, expected manner is not cause of action). Passenger-on-passenger torts are covered under this theory.
Thus, the claim survives under the above standards. Passenger appeared drunk at the time he assaulted PL, American was aware of his drunkenness, and American continued to serve passenger. But this is not the end of the BOP for PL. He has to establish all the elements of a tort claim (causation, damages). This was mere duty and breach of duty. Seeing as there are more facts to determine here, the case needs to be remanded to discovery to provide those facts.
American points though to PL’s assertion that passenger was over-served, which as a generality should not be able to be credited in reviewing the allegation to dismiss. American rightfully claims this allegation is critical, for without the claim, he can’t even prove causation down the line. However, the amended complaint includes just such proof to thwart DF’s complaint to the complaint. In fact, PL did aver that passenger was continuously served drinks after the airline noticed how erratic his behavior was; this is not a general statement, but clear, cogent facts which describe what happened. The rule does not call for an exact recounting of all details related to the event(s) in question, just a “short an plain statement of the claim to give fair notice of the claim and the grounds for the claim.
Fraud claims need to be more detailed. Discriminatory intent is not fraud or any of the other more detailed categories of recounting in a claim.
Rule: See FRCP 12(b)(6).
Holding: Yes. PL’s amended complaint accounted the events in a short plain statement of what happened to give the DF fair notice of both the claim and the grounds for it. There was no generalization in the allegations on this standard.
(Dicta: Count one dismissed b/c if recovery is not allowed under the Convention, then it is not allowed at all.)