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Diveroli v. American Airlines, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. Florida

November 4, 2019

AVIGAIL DIVEROLI, Plaintiff,
v.
AMERICAN AIRLINES, INC., Defendant.

          OMNIBUS ORDER

          BETH BLOOM, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         THIS CAUSE is before the Court upon Defendant American Airlines' (“American Airlines” or “Defendant”) Motion to Dismiss, (the “Motion”), ECF No. [9]. The Court has reviewed the Motion, the opposing and supporting submissions, the record and applicable law, and is otherwise fully advised. For the reasons that follow, Defendant's Motion is granted.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On or about April 9, 2019, Plaintiff alleges she purchased a business-class ticket from Miami, Florida to Los Angeles, California. ECF No. [1], at ¶ 1. Plaintiff is a pregnant woman who allegedly “suffers from severe anxiety.” Id. That same month, Plaintiff claims that a “medically necessary comfort animal, ” a dog-named “Simba” was added to reservation. Id. Plaintiff alleges she called American Airlines on two separate occasions to confirm that Simba could fly in business class because he was allegedly an “emotional support animal.” Id. at ¶ 3.

         On the day of her flight, Plaintiff alleges that she was flying with her husband, Menachem Mendel Gross and her grandfather.[1] Id. at ¶ 2. At some point during the flight, a flight attendant for American Airlines named “Regina, ” (herein referred to as the “Flight Attendant” or “Regina”) noticed Simba and allegedly “[screamed] loudly that the dog [was] not allowed in the cabin, ” because it was an “FAA violation.”[2] Id. at ¶ 4. The Flight Attendant then informed Plaintiff that she would be filing an FAA Complaint. Id. at ¶ 5. Plaintiff claims that the Flight Attendant yelled at Plaintiff and her husband the “whole trip.” Id. at ¶ 5.

         During the flight, the Flight Attendant took a picture of the kennel and Plaintiff. Id. at ¶ 6. At some point during the flight, Plaintiff was allegedly “downgraded, ” and moved to a different seat. Id. at ¶ 6. Plaintiff alleges she notified the Flight Attendant that she had “severe anxiety, ” however, the Flight Attendant stated that she “[did] not care.” Id. at ¶ 7. The Flight Attendant also indicated that everything she was doing was ordered by the captain. Id.

         Throughout the duration of the flight, Plaintiff alleges that other American Airlines flight attendants[3] “kept walking over to Plaintiff and apologizing” to her. Id. at ¶ 9. Plaintiff claims that the other flight attendants also called Regina a “sour apple” and that animals being in the aircraft cabin was a “known issue for her.” Id.

         After allegedly informing the Plaintiff that having an emotional support animal was against FAA regulations, she told Plaintiff she would be “cuffed” upon the plane's landing. Id. at ¶ 18. The Flight Attendant also told Plaintiff that Simba would need to be placed in an aircraft bathroom for the last hour of the flight. Id. While the dog was in its kennel, Plaintiff claims the Flight Attendant took the kennel and attempted to put it into an aircraft bathroom. Id. at ¶ 10. Plaintiff alleges that while doing so, the Flight Attendant started “slamming” the kennel with the bathroom door. Id. Plaintiff claims she then yelled, “[w]hat are you doing to my dog?” Id.

         Once the plane landed, Plaintiff was allegedly escorted off the plane by police. Id. at ¶ 11. As Plaintiff's husband was exiting the airplane, Plaintiff alleges that the captain rushed out and yelled “Don't bring that thing sic [onto] my plane! You see the belly of the plane, that's where he belongs. You see his belly, he belongs in the belly of the plane. Dogs should not be allowed on the plane.” Id. at ¶ 24.

         Plaintiff next claims her husband met with a representative from American Airlines who informed him that the airline had made a “mistake by letting a kennel that big on the plane.” Id. at ¶ 12. The American Airlines representative also allegedly stated that Plaintiff “should not have been treated that way.” Id. Plaintiff claims that the police ultimately concluded that the matter was a “private” issue and that no criminal violation had occurred. Id. at ¶ 13.

         Plaintiff claims she is a “nervous wreck, ” is severely distraught, and that her anxiety has increased following the incident. Id. at ¶ 26. Plaintiff claims she still has not recovered from her mental pain and anguish. Id. Plaintiff alleges that as a direct and proximate result of American Airlines' failure to accommodate Plaintiff, Plaintiff sustained serious injuries and damages including, but not limited to, loss of ability to enjoy life, mental disability, past and future medical expenses, and other mental pain and damages. Id. at ¶ 27. Plaintiff asserts two causes of action against American Airlines, a claim for negligence and a claim for breach of contract.

         As it relates to Plaintiff's negligence claim, she claims that as a common carrier, American Airlines owed a duty to its passengers and “in particular to Plaintiff, to provide carriage with a degree of care necessary to accommodate Plaintiff if she makes a reasonable request.” Id. at ¶ 30. Plaintiff further alleges that American Airlines is duty bound to “exercise the requisite degree of care to prevent injury of any kind, and to maintain its aircraft in a safe condition.” Id. at ¶ 31. Plaintiff claims that American Airlines not only failed to take all necessary measures to avoid the subject accident, but actually “exacerbated” the situation. Id. at ¶ 31. Thus, Plaintiff alleges that American Airlines failed to take all necessary measures to avoid the incident alleged and breached its duty of care. Id. at ¶ 33. Plaintiff claims that she has “endured, and will continue to endure, great pain, suffering, inconvenience, embarrassment, mental anguish and emotional and psychological trauma” as a result of the incident. Id. at ¶ 34. Plaintiff also claims that she “has [] and will be required to expend large sums of money for medical treatment and care, rehabilitation and therapeutic treatment, and other services.” Id. at ¶ 35. Plaintiff alleges as a direct and proximate result of American Airlines' failure to accommodate Plaintiff, she has sustained injuries and damages including, but not limited to, a “loss of mobility, loss of ability to enjoy life, disability, past and future medical expenses, and other injuries and damages.” Id. at ¶ 36.

         As for her breach of contract claim, Plaintiff claims that American Airlines has a Carrier Agreement, which can be found at the website: https://www.aa.com/i18n/travel-info/special-assistance/service-animals.jsp (the “Carrier Agreement”). Id. at ¶¶ 37-38. Plaintiff claims that the Carrier Agreement concerns the requirements for flying with service and emotional support animals. Id. at ¶ 39. Plaintiff claims that her dog met all of the requirements outlined in the Carrier Agreement. Id. at ¶ 41. Plaintiff claims American Airlines breached the Carrier Agreement by removing the dog from her possession and placing the dog in the aircraft bathroom. Id. at ¶ 44. In addition to the emotional distress allegedly experienced by Plaintiff due to Defendant's alleged breach of the Carrier Agreement, she claims that her kennel was damaged, and her dog Simba was “traumatized” by the event. Id. at ¶ 46.

         Defendant has now moved to dismiss both counts, arguing that each fails to state a claim pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). ECF No. [8].

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a motion to dismiss is proper when there is a “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). A pleading in a civil action must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). To satisfy the Rule 8 pleading requirements, a complaint must provide the defendant fair notice of what the plaintiff's claim is and the grounds upon which it rests. Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 512 (2002). To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain factual allegations which are “enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level, on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact).” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). While it “does not need detailed factual allegations, ” a complaint requires “more than labels and conclusions” and “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Id.; see Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (explaining that the Rule 8(a)(2) pleading standard “demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation”). Nor can a complaint rest on “naked assertion[s] devoid of ‘further factual enhancement.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. ...


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