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Saegusa-Beecroft v. Hawaiian Airlines Inc.

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

April 12, 2019

EMI SAEGUSA-BEECROFT and ALEXANDER BEECROFT Plaintiffs,
v.
HAWAIIAN AIRLINES, INC., and DOE DEFENDANTS 1-10, Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS WITHOUT LEAVE TO AMEND (ECF NO. 26)

          HELEN GILLMOR JUDGE

         Plaintiffs Emi Saegusa-Beecroft and Alexander Beecroft filed a Complaint against Defendant Hawaiian Airlines, Inc.

         The Complaint alleges that Plaintiffs were passengers on a Hawaiian Airlines operated domestic flight from Honolulu, Hawaii to Hilo, Hawaii. Plaintiffs claim that part of the plane's interior ceiling landed on Emi Saegusa-Beecroft during the flight to Hilo.

         The Complaint asserts that this Court has federal question subject-matter jurisdiction pursuant to the Warsaw and Montreal Conventions, the treaties governing passenger injuries on international flights.

         Defendant Hawaiian Airlines, Inc. filed a Motion to Dismiss for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. The Warsaw and Montreal Conventions are inapplicable because there was no international travel by the Plaintiffs. Plaintiffs' travel on a domestic, inter-island flight does not provide a basis for federal question jurisdiction. There is also no federal question jurisdiction in this case pursuant to either the Federal Aviation Act or general maritime law.

         Defendant's Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction (ECF No. 26) is GRANTED WITHOUT LEAVE TO AMEND.

         PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On October 9, 2018, Plaintiffs Emi Saegusa-Beecroft and Alexander Beecroft filed a Complaint. (ECF No. 1).

         On February 4, 2019, Defendant Hawaiian Airlines, Inc. filed MOTION TO DISMISS FOR LACK OF SUBJECT MATTER JURISDICTION. (ECF No. 26).

         On February 20, 2019, Plaintiffs Emi Saegusa-Beecroft and Alexander Beecroft filed their Opposition. (ECF No. 28).

         On March 6, 2019, Defendant filed its Reply. (ECF No. 29).

         The Court elected to decide the matter without a hearing pursuant to District of Hawaii Local Rule 7.2(d).

         BACKGROUND

         The Complaint alleges that on the morning of January 16, 2017, Plaintiffs Emi Saegusa-Beecroft and Alexander Beecroft traveled on a domestic, inter-island flight from Honolulu, Hawaii to Hilo, Hawaii. (Complaint at ¶ 7, ECF No. 1). The Complaint alleges the plane was owned, operated, and maintained by Defendant Hawaiian Airlines. (Id. at ¶¶ 7, 9).

         Plaintiffs claim that during the flight, part of the interior ceiling of the plane struck Plaintiff Emi Saegusa-Beecroft on the head, causing her injury. (Id. at ¶ 8).

         Plaintiffs' Complaint alleges that this Court has federal question subject-matter jurisdiction pursuant to the Warsaw and Montreal Conventions governing passenger injury claims on international flights. (Id. at ¶ 5).

         Defendant Hawaiian Airlines moves to dismiss on the basis that there is no federal question jurisdiction. Defendant brought a factual attack to subject-matter jurisdiction. Defendant provided the plane tickets and boarding passes for the Plaintiffs' January 16, 2017 travel on Hawaiian Airlines Flight 342 that specify the Plaintiffs' domestic travel was from Honolulu to Hilo. (E-ticket Receipts for Plaintiffs' January 16, 2017 flights, attached as Ex. A to Def.'s Motion to Dismiss, ECF No. 26-3; Plaintiffs' Boarding Passes, attached as Ex. B to Def.'s Motion to Dismiss, ECF No. 26-4).

         Defendant also attached Plaintiffs' Responses To Interrogatories that admitted that Plaintiffs' entire travel was limited to the domestic, intrastate flight on Hawaiian Airlines from Honolulu to Hilo. (Pla.'s Responses to Interrogatories, attached as Exs. C and D to Def.'s Motion to Dismiss, ECF No. 26-5, 26-6).

         Defendant argues that the Warsaw and Montreal Conventions are inapplicable because Plaintiffs did not travel internationally.

         Plaintiffs did not respond to Defendant's Motion with any affidavits or evidence to establish a factual basis for federal question subject-matter jurisdiction. Plaintiffs concede that the Warsaw and Montreal Conventions do not apply because there was no international flight.

         Rather, Plaintiffs claim that there may be a basis for federal question subject-matter jurisdiction based on either the Federal Aviation Act or general maritime law.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         A plaintiff has the burden of proving that subject-matter jurisdiction does in fact exist. Thornhill Publ'g Co., Inc. v. Gen. Tel. & Elecs. Corp., 594 F.2d 730, 733 (9th Cir. 1979).

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) requires that a case must be dismissed for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction when the Court lacks a constitutional or statutory basis to adjudicate the controversy. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1); Leeson v. Transamerica Disability Income Plan, 671 F.3d 969, 975 (9th Cir. 2012).

         A challenge to the Court's subject-matter jurisdiction may be “facial or factual.” Safe Air for Everyone v. Meyer, 373 F.3d 1035, 1039 (9th Cir. 2004). In a facial attack, the party challenging jurisdiction argues that the allegations contained in a complaint are insufficient “on their face” to invoke federal jurisdiction. Id. A facial challenge, therefore, mirrors a traditional motion to dismiss analysis. The Court must take all allegations contained in the pleading ...


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